boy scouts girl scouts bsa
An International Boy And Girl Scout Meeting

To Everyone Mad at Women & Liberals For “Making” the Boy Scouts Change Their Name: We Don’t Want This. We Never Wanted This

An International Boy And Girl Scout Meeting

Last fall, the Boy Scouts of America announced they would be admitting girls into their ranks. At the time, this news was not met with enthusiasm from the Girl Scouts. Back in August of 2017, before the official announcement was even made, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, the President of GSUSA, sent a letter to the head of the BSA, accusing the group of betraying their 100-year relationship and covertly trying to recruit girls, and badmouthing the Girl Scouts in order to do so.

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The two groups had reportedly been in talks to collaborate for a while, but then the BSA just went ahead and started “aggressive[ly] posturing … at recent ‘family meetings’ outlining the proposed girls program.” As Hannan described in her letter, “This includes everything from disparaging and untrue remarks about Girl Scout programming, to subtle implications about the weakness of Girl Scouts’ long term market strength. Starting off any program when people are feeling bullied is not in keeping with the founding ideals of either Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. I implore you to condemn this behavior within your organization and to create consequences for these actions.”

The Girl Scouts of the USA actively disagreed with the decision and the tactics used by the Boy Scouts of America to make their organization co-ed. The official position of the Girl Scouts is that designated single-gender programs benefit girls more than co-ed ones and that a rushed process of inclusion will only result in girls being sidelined and marginalized within the organization. Hannan called it “short-sighted” to presume “that running a program specifically tailored to boys can simply be translated to girls.”

To reiterate: The Boy Scouts made this decision on their own. The Girl Scouts were not only not involved but fought against the decision.

So why am I still not surprised to see the internet full of people railing against the Girl Scouts, “liberals,” and women in general, upon the announcement that the Boy Scouts of America is changing their name the more gender-neutral Scouts BSA.

Boy Scouts and Scouts BSA are trending on Twitter and Facebook today, but I wouldn’t recommend looking through the comments. It’s all the homophobic, misogynistic crap you might expect from people who have turned this into a partisan issue and assume this is part of some sort of female-driven liberal agenda to “ruin” the Boy Scouts and “feminize” boys.

I’m sure there are plenty of girls who will be excited to join the Boy Scouts, and who could potentially thrive in that environment. (And some Boy Scouts programs already are available to girls and have been for some time.) But as the Girl Scouts have always maintained, there are incomparable benefits to designated single-gender organizations, especially in a world where anything made for or marketed to women is thought to be innately inferior. In fact, it’s that insulting and inaccurate notion that the Boy Scouts were exploiting in their original attempt to recruit girls. (Which they did, of course, to pad their own “declining membership.”)

It’s an unfortunate reality that the Girl Scouts’ image doesn’t always live up to the actual organization. People constantly perpetuate false ideas, like the misconception that there’s no equivalent to Eagle Scout. (That would be the Gold Award and it’s awesome.) Or the belief that all Girl Scouts do is sell cookies. (Excuse me, have you seen the kickass badges the Girl Scouts offer?)

Not to mention, the Girl Scouts have long been far more inclusive than the BSA, allowing transgender members to join in 2011, two years before the Boy Scouts dropped their ban on gay members, and six years before the BSA admitted trans members.

As Hannan stated in her letter last August, “Rather than seeking to fundamentally transform BSA into a co-ed program, we believe strongly that Boy Scouts should instead take steps to ensure that they are expanding the scope of their programming to all boys, including those who BSA has historically underserved and underrepresented, such as African American and Latino boys.”

If the Scouts BSA are committed to making their program co-ed, and if people are having such a hard time accepting this, they could, at the very least, aim their rage in the appropriate direction.

(image: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane
Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.