By Kayla Jimenez
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced on October 11th, that starting in 2018, young girls will be allowed to join the Cub Scouts, with an Eagle scout program extended to young women by 2019. This isn’t surprising; earlier this year, the BSA voted to allow transgender boys to join the organization. The Wall Street Journal explains that “it seems the Scouts have finally surrendered to the culture war, but the reality is more complicated.” While many are outraged, disappointed, and disgusted by this transition ( ;P ), here are some valid reasons for this change.
1. The BSA is losing members
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Boy Scout membership has fallen by about a third since 2000.” With a steadily declining membership, and multiple failed initiatives implemented aimed at stopping this decline, the BSA was left with little options for its survival. In fact, previous initiatives, such as the Sea Scouting and Venturing programs, have been open to women, in hopes to battle the diminishing numbers of scouts. If those up in arms about this change truly cared about the Boy Scouts as an organization, they would see that allowing young girls and women is necessary for the organization’s survival. The WSJ reports that, “90% of parents not involved with scouting were interested in getting their daughters into a program like the Cub Scouts.” Hello, that’s a huge opportunity to expand membership! Allowing young girls to get involved seems like a no-brainer solution to the loss of members, if you ask me.
2. New programs will uphold tradition and family-oriented values
In the announcement, the BSA emphasized that it intends to develop and offer more programs for entire families. Those who typically argue for the boys-only Boy Scouts appreciate and understand the importance of family in young people’s lives, as does the BSA. New programs and initiatives that are family oriented have to include women and girls to truly be about family.
3.Girl Scouts < Boy Scouts
Another point of contempt for those in opposition to allowing girls into the Boy Scouts is that the genders are inherently different, so boys have Boy Scouts, and girls have Girl Scouts. As a former Girl Scout, let me just say that the Girl Scouts is a far less useful organization, and not because women are less useful in society. Yes, there are differences between the genders, but that does not mean that young girls wouldn’t benefit from the opportunities the BSA has to offer. A Facebook friend of mine, Caitlin, emphasized the futility of Girl Scouts in a recent status: “When I went ‘camping’ as a Brownie and as a Junior, we slept on mattresses in a cabin. Boy Scouts of the same age, however, learned how to pitch tents and build a fire. The Boy Scouts got to march down Main Street militaristically while holding the colors while the Girl Scouts waved like pageant girls at parade goers while wearing handmade cardboard costumes. Yes, both kinds of Scouts learned how to work independently as well as alongside a team, but there are still some big differences between the groups that make them in no way equal. This isn’t an issue of completely obliterating gender norms or enforcing a more “politically correct” agenda, -okay? It’s about giving little girls the same opportunities as their male peers. God forbid a first grader would rather go on a hike instead of sell a box of cookies.” YAS queen. No really though. At Girl Scouts, we would sit around, glitter glue shit, fill out workbooks… everyone hated it and was only there because her mom forced her to be because they thought it would look good on college applications! What type of organization is that? Oh, I guess we occasionally did community service, but that was not as common as the glitter gluing. And I know this varies from troop to troop, but I was in four different Girl Scout troops from kindergarten to high school, and none of them seemed to be much different. Could the Girl Scouts up its game and start offering better programs for young girls and women? Sure! But have they? Mmm, not really. What incentive did the GSA have? They lacked competitors. Now that the BSA is allowing females to join, there is a competitive environment that will encourage both the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts to continue to provide exciting and educational opportunities for young men AND women.
4. The BSA still upholds and even furthers its mission
For your reference, here is the BSA mission statement:
“The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”
And here is the Scout Oath:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
And the Scout Law:
A Scout is:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, Reverent
How is the BSA going to fulfill this mission with fewer and fewer boys joining the Scouts? Um, they’re not. Allowing girls to join will further the reach and impact of the BSA on society and will help the BSA to achieve its mission. Young girls can follow the Scout Oath and Law just as well, and by doing so will only help young boys to do so. Boys and girls, women and men, are a team, whether that be in the classroom, in the workplace, as parents, as siblings, as friends, on the battlefield… the list goes on and on. In today’s world, women and men alike have influential roles in society and in the family, and the values of the BSA will only be more effective with more loyal members. Though these roles may differ, the core values of the BSA will have a stronger place in society if taught to young boys AND girls.
5. Girls will not be infiltrating the Boy Scouts, as dens can still be single-gender
Even though girls will be allowed to join, dens can still be single-gender. On an individual basis, local packs can decide whether they want to be mixed or single-gender, or both. No one will be forced to change the entire structure of scouting programs. Local leaders, parents, and participants can make that decision on their own. If a den wants to be mixed-gender, great! If a local pack decides that dens will be single-gender, that’s cool too! I’m all for separating young girls and boys for camping trips, for example, because that shit can get awkward. This change is not about forcing the genders to become one, or making boys more feminine, or girls more masculine, or eliminating all signs of gender identity, or diminishing differences between the genders… it’s about building a community, bringing people together, and instilling core values in young people regardless of gender. The BSA is even designing an Eagle Scout program specifically for young women, so the integrity of the original Eagle Scout program for young men will not be compromised nor will it be adversely affected. The Scouts confirm that “this unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single-gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.” So relax.
I get it, I really do. People are concerned that the Boy Scouts will lose its ability to affect and inspire young men, or they’re concerned that we are becoming too politically correct and erasing all differences between the genders, or they have some other argument that I did not address here (see Patrick’s article, homies). But the reality is that the BSA needs female members to continue to grow, and has incorporated women into the organization for years. According to the LA Times, “nearly a third of the group’s volunteers are women.” It’s time that people come to terms with change and learn to see the positives instead of focusing on the negatives.