After more than 100 years as “Boy Scouts,” for boys, the Boy Scouts of America announced they would be changing one of their landmark programs to accommodate girls. Starting next February, their program for kids 11-17 years old will simply be “Scouts BSA.” Girls will now be able to join the older group and advance to the highest rank, Eagle Scout. Boy Scouts of America welcomed girls into the Cub Scouts program last fall.
Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement, “As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible. That is why it is important that the name for our Scouting program for older youth remain consistent with the single name approach used for the Cub Scouts.”
On the surface, this looks very inclusive, accepting, and even charming. As a mother who grew up a tomboy, (Are we allowed to use that word?) and who has two boys, and two girls (one of which is also a tomboy), I can see why this seems like a good idea superficially. If there were no similar organizations for girls, it might make sense to press for gender inclusivity. But there are Girl Scouts, and in fact, they didn’t quite care for this change.
In response to these new changes, Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, said, “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to provide their girls opportunities to build new skills, explore STEM and the outdoors, participate in community projects, and grow into happy, successful, civically engaged adults,” Acevedo told ABC News in a statement. “We’re also dedicated to building that critical STEM workforce pipeline that businesses and communities across the country are looking for.”
Allowing girls to join the Boy Scouts does so much more than even the playing ground – if that’s all it was, it wouldn’t be a bad thing. Inclusivity based on gender, or allowing girls into what was previously an all-boy group, serves to discredit the notion that boys need to spend time with other boys, to engage in masculine activities, and to learn from older, healthy men how to imitate them. Boys should be allowed to be involved in groups with only other boys, just like Bible studies favor Christians, feminists promote other women, and more.
As a mother of four, I’m not saying boys and girls shouldn’t engage with one another or that there shouldn’t be an effort to allow for neutrality in areas where it matters (like toys!) but to include girls in Boy Scouts effectively communicates that a boy’s gender doesn’t matter while a girl’s gender does.
Partaking in this particular gender war, where girls must be equal and invited equally to all organizations, will eventually backfire. Soon gender quotas will neutralize all gender as opposed to aiding the so-called disadvantaged one. Even now, it’s obvious this is unfair to the boys , not more fair to the girls. The girls get to join Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, but the boys are now not allowed to enjoy that same advantage of spending quality time with one another?
Disrupting a boys-version of a “band of brothers” is harmful to men and thus, equally harmful to women. It’s there, within a group of men, that boys learn to embrace their masculinity, often in a really positive way.
Who are the Boy Scouts to eradicate that opportunity? How exactly will girls, who eventually will become women, benefit from constantly invading on the sacred space that is a boys’ playground?
Nicole Russell is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. She is a journalist in Washington, D.C., who previously worked in Republican politics in Minnesota. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator’s Young Journalist Award.