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Majority Opposes Boy Scouts Decision Allowing Girls to Join

Republicans and Democrats have very different views of the decision to allow girls to join the Boy Scouts.
Image: A Boy Scout uniform hangs in a store at the Marin Council of the Boy Scouts of America
A Boy Scout uniform hangs in a store at the Marin Council of the Boy Scouts of America on July 27, 2015 in San Rafael, California.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images file

A majority of Americans oppose the decision by the Boy Scouts of America to start admitting girls next year, a new poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal shows. But, as with many other issues in the current polarized era, political ideology has a lot to do with how the public views the new policy.

Nearly six-in-ten Americans — 57 percent — disagree with the move to allow girls to join the Boy Scouts, with 37 percent voicing strong opposition.

Thirty-six percent overall say they support the decision.

The Boy Scouts of America announced on October 11 that young girls would soon be allowed to join Cub Scout troops and that older girls would be eligible to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, saying in a statement that the decision came after “years of receiving requests from families and girls.” But the policy change has received mixed reviews from some advocates, including Girl Scouts USA, which responded to the announcement by lauding the benefits of “the single-gender environment.”

The new survey shows that there is not a significant gap in how women and men view the decision to allow girls into the Boy Scouts; very similar shares — 58 percent of men and 56 percent of women — oppose it.

But partisans differ dramatically on the gender integration plan.

Among Democrats, 50 percent support the move, while 41 percent oppose it. But among Republicans, just 19 percent back the Boy Scouts’ decision, while a whopping 77 percent give it a thumbs down.

Age is also a major factor in how the public views the decision.

Younger Americans are about evenly split, with 47 percent of 18-34 year-olds supporting the move and 44 percent opposing it.

But among Americans over 50, those opposing the Boy Scouts' decision outnumber those supporting it by a margin of more than two to one.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll was conducted October 23-26, 2017 and has an overall margin of error of +/-3.27 percent.