Boy scouts are reaching over the gender divide, sparking debate

By Rebecca Gordon
Staff Writer

As a consummate tomboy, fantasies of being a Boy Scout consumed my childhood. However, Boy Scouts were for boys, and Girl Scouts were for girls. Period.

Eventually, I convinced myself that perhaps I could find what I was looking for in the arms of the Girl Scouts.  Several hours of making crafts and dealing with catty girls who made it their mission to exclude me due to my tomboyishness soured me on the whole concept.

I’ve never held particularly hard or fond feelings toward either organization, but in the back of my mind, the fairness of it all irked.

Imagine my surprise, and pleasure, at hearing the BSA decree that girls would be welcome to join their starter program, the Cub Scouts, and that older girls would soon be able to go for their Eagle rank.

My first thought; another barrier in gender stereotypes had been brought down. That the BSA, who had already made strides toward inclusion with the acceptance of those who identified as boys or as transgender earlier this year, were making just another step in the name of unity.

The GSUSA didn’t see it that way. It’s almost as if the organization was insulted by the change.

A statement was released by the GSUSA on ABC, which essentially attacked the BSA for not cleaning up its own house before inviting guests, with fingers especially pointed over money management by BSA leadership. Then the GSUSA really got their dander up in a blog post, that while not specifically directed at the BSA, was released soon after the announcement by them.

“Girl Scouts is the best girl leadership organization in the world, created with and for girls,” the blog post begins. “We believe strongly in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides, which creates a free space for girls to learn and thrive.”

The idea that female empowerment and encouragement cannot come from the BSA because it’s not an all-girl organization is impractical. Plenty of situations that promote girls, and interactions between boys and girls are co-ed; classrooms for instance.

Another concern with the GSUSA response was the flagrant attack on BSA financials. It’s true that the BSA is losing money; five camps throughout Michigan were closed following the 2016 season due to a lack of use and maintenance costs, the Detroit Free Press reports.

But isn’t pointing that out a little on the nose for an organization whose cookie sales topped $776 million in 2015? And that figure was lower than the previous year.

Is the concern girls won’t get the leadership they need, or that cookie sales might drop again?

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