by Emma Woodrum
On Oct. 11, 2017, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced that girls will now be allowed to join Boy Scouts. With this change, young girls will have the ability to earn the rank of Eagle Scout for the first time in the organization’s 107 years of existence. This historic event is said to be implemented next year. This decision was made by the BSA Board of Directors with unanimous approval.
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive. “We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”
The BSA believes that girls have the right to be taught the same skills as boys as they develop and grow into adults. In Boy Scouts, boys are taught many beneficial skills from areas such as social skills, to wilderness survival skills whereas Girl Scouts teaches these same skills, but to a different degree than the boys. In the past, girls had been allowed to participate in Boy Scouts programs, however, older girls did not have the option to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, and younger girls did not have the option to join cub scouts.
“Some of the things they do in Boy Scouts are more challenging or different than what they do in girl scouts, and I think that girls should be able to have that opportunity,” said sophomore Emma Liston.
As with many other situations, this has become a rather controversial topic. While many people are happy with the BSA’s decision, there are many individuals that don’t agree with it. There have been disputes between the BSA and Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) due to the fact that GSUSA believes only Girl Scouts can provide the tools needed for success in female leadership due to it’s focus on gaining confidence and promoting participation in STEM (science, technology, and engineering) fields.
“The reality is we, for 105 years, have really focused on serving girls and their emotional, psychological, and developmental needs,” said Lisa Margosian, the Girl Scouts’ Chief Customer Officer. “We’ll be sorry for those girls [who join boy scouts] because they will miss out on the best experience, and that’s just a shame.”
Boy Scout counterparts precedingly threatened Girl Scouts by saying that they won’t be around much longer, in order to recruit more parents to support the coed programming.
“It’s kind of a hostile takeover,” said Elizabeth Searing, an assistant professor of public administration and policy at SUNY Albany and Director of the Institute of Nonprofit Leadership and Community Development.
Other than GSUSA being frustrated with the situation, there are many people who aren’t involved scouts that are upset as well.
“Instead of trying to join the Boy Scouts, why not make an attempt to make the Girl Scouts better,” said freshman Liam Machabee. “Also, isn’t Girl Scouts equally as discriminatory as Boy Scouts since boys are not allowed in it?”
Through these changes, a new question has formed: Why not have girl scouts perform the same activities as Boy Scouts while keeping the two genders separate? Rather than integrating girls into Boy Scouts, GSUSA could plan new activities that are similar to the ones Boy Scouts do. For example, Girl Scouts could go on the same wilderness camping trips and do the same physically challenging activities as the boys, allowing girls to gain new skills and experience. As a result, feuds about girls being allowed into Boy Scouts could slowly diminish.