Last week the Boy Scouts of America announced it will soon allow girls to join the organization as Cub Scouts and earn the rank of Eagle Scout, marking a significant policy shift in the organization’s over 100-year history.
This decision comes after a letter from the Girl Scouts of the USA president to the Boy Scouts was leaked to the public in August. President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan had accused the Boy Scouts of starting the discussion to allow girls into their organization purely to increase interest in the Boy Scouts of America.
Both the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts have experienced a decrease in membership in recent years, the Boy Scouts by about third since 2000.
In a statement that is not directly linked to the announcement by the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts have said they are “here to stay” and “the best leadership organization in the world,” as they are “created with and for girls.”
“The need for female leadership has never been clearer or more urgent than it is today—and only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success,” the Girl Scouts said in a statement.
Starting in 2018, girls will be allowed into the Cub Scouts program, which will eventually run all the way up until they reach the Eagle Scout ranking.
This comes at the request for membership from girls themselves and their families.
In 2013, the Boy Scouts announced a lift on its ban of openly gay scouts. Following this decision, the organization lifted its ban on gay troop leaders in 2015. Earlier in 2017, the Boy Scouts also announced it would allow transgender boys to join.
In the past, girls have been allowed to take part in the Boy Scouts’ Exploring program since 1971. This program is focused on teaching important career skills. The highest ranking in the Boy Scouts girls have been able to earn is the Ranger award.
Some are ecstatic that girls can now earn a title as prestigious as the Eagle Scout title.
There are already girls who do all the activities the boys in Boy Scout troops do, but without the formal recognition.
Across the board, there are those who are against the decision, girl scouts and boy scouts alike. Speculation on a name change for the Boy Scouts of America has circulated in the media, but the organization has not jumped to confirm or deny.
— Girl Scouts (@girlscouts) October 11, 2017
Now, girl scouts are speaking up to disprove the stigma that all they do is sell cookies. In the shadow of the Eagle Scout ranking is the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award. Similar to the Eagle Scout standing, the Gold Award represents the highest achievement in the organization. Earning the award requires the completion of long term projects and leadership qualities found only in the top girl scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America offers a variety of benefits to boys, as does the Girl Scouts of the USA to girls.
Some girls may not fit in with the Girl Scouts and desire a different atmosphere with the Boy Scouts’ values of Scouting of bravery, loyalty and trustworthiness embedded into it.
Those who feel that way will have another option in the Boy Scouts of America starting in 2018.
Will this event change the separation of clubs between boys and girls? It could. Down the line it could lead to less of an ‘us and them’ mentality when it comes to organizations centered around similar concepts: bonding with peers and doing service for the greater community.
Why do boys get to go camping while girls have to sell cookies? Why do girls get to learn how to sew but boys have to have to learn about road traffic safety?
The basic values are essentially the same. In the Girl Scouts mission statement, the organization strives to build girls “who make the world a better place.” The Boy Scout Oath states that boy scouts, to the best of their ability, will “help other people at all times.”
Why not combine forces and leave behind letting some in and keeping some out? Although not likely in the near future, boys and girls basket weaving amongst each other could happen within the same club. Or woodcarving, the great American pastime that should be open to both boys and girls of scout nature.
Could this be a nod to the rise in acknowledgement of gender fluidity? Hopefully, but maybe not. It could only be an attempt to raise interest in the organization like the president of the Girl Scouts claimed.
Regardless, this announcement has shed light on both the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the USA, something both organizations have been craving.
Cover image via Sun Chronicle