Boy Scouts to admit girls for the first time ever

Boy Scouts to admit girls for the first time ever

The Boy Scouts of America announced today that Girl Scouts will be admitted to some programs, in a major decision changing the direction of both organizations. The smallest groups of scouts, called Cub Dens, will remain all-boys. But some of the larger groups will admit girls, and in 2019 a program for older girls will also open.

The BSA's chief scout executive, Michael Surbaugh, said:

"We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women."

At first glance, this appears to be an uncontroversial progressive move, right? Well, not really. It may in fact turn out very badly, because one of the biggest critics of this move aren't conservative parents who want to keep boys and girls apart, but instead the Girl Scouts, who fear that the Boy Scouts are trying to totally eclipse them and squeeze them out of young girls' lives.

The President of the Girl Scouts wrote in August:

"I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts ... and not consider expanding to recruit girls."

Indeed, if the Girl Scouts already exist, why try to crowd them out to make the Boy Scouts absorb more girls, while meanwhile young boys are participating in the Boy Scouts at very low numbers? It just doesn't add up. Too often, these 'progressive' moves ignore the full picture of human social life, and end up undermining their own goals. I would prefer not to see the Girl Scouts become obscure and disappear because young girls all went to the Boy Scouts.

Christina Cauterucci wrote a fascinating piece for Slate in August, arguing precisely why putting girls in the Boy Scouts is a bad idea:

"GSUSA has helped girls exercise their power and test their capabilities in a space set apart from the boys by whose skill sets they might otherwise measure their own accomplishments. When girls don’t have to worry about how they’ll look if they perform a task better or worse than a boy, they’re more likely to explore the far reaches of their own potential. They also get opportunities that are harder to find in organizations where boys make up the majority—or even minority—of participants. When girls and young women must occupy all leadership roles, girls and young women learn how to lead."

The Girl Scouts also fear that masculine activities will be used for both boys and girls, not allowing girls to pursue their own interests and individuality. She continued:

"The 21st century doesn’t need Boy Scout troops with girls in them. It needs a Boy Scout curriculum that challenges and expands traditional notions of masculinity, doing for boys what GSUSA has done for girls. Instead of chipping away at the Girl Scouts’ membership, the Boy Scouts should heed its example."

Yet, one totally gender neutral program also seems stifling. Is it really so controversial to say that young boys and young girls deserve spaces of their own to pursue separate activities in order to develop properly into young adults?

Of course, girls who identify as boys and boys who identify as girls should be allowed to join whatever Scout organization they choose. But trying to undermine the Girl Scouts is not a good idea. The Boy Scouts should sit down and acknowledge their place, right? What do you think?