Becoming an Eagle Scout, an elite rank within the Boy Scouts, requires time, effort, tenacity—and now, a new merit badge inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday that those who wish to attain Eagle Scout status must now earn a "diversity and inclusion" badge. "The Boy Scouts of America stands with Black families and the Black community because we believe that Black Lives Matter," the BSA said in a letter (seen here) sent to Scouting families. "This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue and one we all have a duty to address." Earning the badge will be an extension of what's required for other merit badges that mandate Scouts "learn about and engage with other groups and cultures," per Fox News. The BSA says starting next month, it will also begin offering diversity and inclusion training for workers.
A Northwestern University political science professor tells NBC News the BSA's move is a "big deal," but also that the group has been slacking in terms of progressive stances; now, "nobody wants to have anything to do with them." "Society is passing them by, and they have to catch up," Alvin Tillery says. Still, a history professor at Christian Brothers University notes the BSA hasn't endorsed discrimination or segregation since its inception more than a century ago, and that it has long encouraged black youth to join. "They were taking inclusive stances when the Ku Klux Klan was riding high," says Ben Jordan. The BSA letter notes this move is just the beginning. "As our country reckons with racial injustice, we all must consider our role and our failures and commit to meaningful action," the letter reads. "There is no place for racism—not in Scouting and not in our communities." (Read more Boy Scouts stories.)