Accepting girls into the Boy Scouts:

Women are stronger without membership in Boy Scouts

Shane Ostrom, Contributing Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The Boy Scouts of America has been an iconic nonprofit organization for nearly one hundred years and currently touches the lives of 2.4 million youth and over 1 million adult volunteers. Earlier this month, the board of directors of the Boy Scouts unanimously voted to fully integrate females into their programs at all ranks.

“The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women,” Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said.

This announcement seemed like a great, inclusive move on the part of the Boy Scouts, but this decision is suspiciously progressive for the organization.

The Boy Scouts have only allowed “known and avowed homosexuals” to join since 2014 and homosexual troop leaders to serve since 2015. Additionally, to this day, new members must declare belief in God, though to avoid discrimination or overtly zealous initiatives, no specific religious affiliation is given.

Despite their exclusive history for certain groups, they believe they are ready to accept young women as equals, and I disagree. While I would have a hard time arguing against the case of inclusivity of women, I will confidently say that young women are stronger without Boy Scouts and should not concern themselves with the gimmick.

According to data from the Boy Scout’s annual report, from 1998 to 2008 overall membership fell 16 percent. In the three years between 2013 and 2016, membership fell another staggering 10 percent, in which time they allowed access to LGBTQ individuals.

These patterns do not go unnoticed. It seems that whenever money gets tight and participation gets low, the Boy Scouts are willing to reconsider their policies. This is problematic because they are clearly not interested in actually implementing social reform in their organization but rather use diversity as a financial and image-bolstering commodity.

The Boy Scouts  have extended to the widest possible demographic, to include everybody. But this act of inclusivity is not without consequences.

The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. is a longstanding organization that has been particularly important in advocating entrepreneurship, community service and S.T.E.M. participation for females. Girl Scouts has responded to Boy Scouts’ announcement by accusing them of cutting into their program.

President of Girl Scouts Kathy Hopinkah Hannan wrote in response, “We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls.”

Frustrated, Girl Scouts told ABC News in a statement, “Instead of addressing systemic issues of continuing sexual assault, financial mismanagement and deficient programming, BSA’s senior management wants to add an accelerate to [their] house fire by recruiting girls.”

This is not a baseless accusation. Is it socially beneficial to put at risk the opportunities available specificly to females in our patriarchal country, such as Girl Scouts, for the sake of recruitment numbers and an illusion of inclusivity? Will young women actually be treated as equals in a program that will always be called “Boy Scouts?”

With something as drastic as including another gender in their program, one could at least expect Boy Scouts to rename their organization to match their supposed intentions. Until that happens, females in the organization will only be exceptions to something implied by even the name of the organization, and with this precedent, young girls will likely be further dehumanized by competitive pubescent boys.

While it is unfair to say that girls should be excluded on account of probable boy behavior, I would say that it is fair to call on Boy Scouts to make steps towards a gender-neutral program to deconstruct the ridiculous patriarchal sexism that is bound to be present in the organization and take proactive measures to proactively create a safe, equal environment for female members.

A big obstacle to the integration of females into a male-exclusive organization is how the organization is compartmentalized. Because Boy Scouts operates via many local chapters, national policy can only be implemented through objective legislation. Therefore, girls may be recognized on a national level and treated differently unit to unit.

For example, the vague proclamation offers no resources for female integration, so they are assumedly allowing females to trickle into local chapters little by little, undermining the inclusion of women on a national level.

Boy Scouts has failed to offer any plans on how they intend to respectfully integrate females other than “letting them in,” and as such, clearly has no intentions of moving away from a male-dominated organization. To me, it is despicable to include other groups after so long without integrating them in a respectful, reformative way.

Until there are female-led scouting units adequately represented in Boy Scouts, all female Boy Scouts will be dependent on males, directly enforcing a patriarchy that Girl Scouts attempts to combat and thus, undermining their message and hurting their recruitment numbers.

Ultimately, I believe that the world has been dominated by men for long enough and only in recent history have there been legitimate main-stream challenges to this power differential. That being said, I will advocate for women’s choice.

Girls, if for some reason you think it would be good to contribute to a Boy Scout troop, I have no interest in arguing; however, I want to say that you do not have to submit to male-dominated power structures to be successful and should consider what institutions you are supporting as an individual and for women on a wider basis. You are all stronger than Boy Scouts will make you and Girl Scouts troops will always be more beneficial to women on a national level than Boy Scouts.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email