Yes, girls in the BSA.
I want the BSA to be a fully co-ed organization with no limitations on how girls participate.
Before you lose it understand I don’t think girls in the BSA should be forced on anyone. More about that later.
I think we can and must make this happen for one simple reason: it is the right thing to do.
I can’t say I always thought this way.
We first visited Kandersteg International Scout Center in Switzerland six years ago. The vast majority of World Scouting is co-ed. How would my Scouts react to girls as Scouts on an equal footing with boys? Turns out I needn’t have worried. My Scouts accepted a Scout is a Scout regardless of their gender very quickly. It took me a little longer, but not much.
I guess seeing is believing, at least that’s all it took for me. A Scout is a Scout: it really is as simple as that.
I know it may take more to convince some folks this is the right thing to do. Before I talk about one caveat to having girls in the BSA here’s a simple question:
Should Gender Define Scouting?
Scouting in the United States is divided by gender. This division assumes girls and boys are fundamentally different and develop differently. This division also indicates we are okay with having gender continue to be a major determining factor in our children’s choices and futures.
It is easy to find hundreds of studies documenting gender-based developmental differences. These studies may not explain the difference between biological sex characteristics and assigned gender roles. Fact is many of those developmental differences are caused by assigned gender roles, not biological sex characteristics.
We are born with biological sex characteristics, but we learn gender roles.
The taboos, definitions, and expectations of assigned gender roles woven into our religious beliefs, our families, our politics, our careers, and ourselves, are very powerful. Gender conditioning begins right away (pink for girls and blue for boys) so we accept it as the natural state of things.
Gender roles are not biological, and they have not remained consistent. Within my lifetime they have changed considerably. I am old enough to recall when women first entered many traditionally male roles. This was remarkable enough to be newsworthy: “Town Hires First Lady Policeman”. Let’s also acknowledge enforcing gender roles as we do almost exclusively benefits men – that’s not an opinion, that’s our history.
People of goodwill agree character, talents, and abilities should define our children’s future rather than things like gender, skin color, or sexual orientation. If that is true it follows we’ll stop dividing our children into gender based groups and treating them differently.
One Caveat and Two Minor Issues
One caveat: I support allowing chartering organizations to choose how they incorporate girls in the BSA. Some would choose to become fully co-ed, some would choose to remain as they are, some would have boys and girls in separate groups.
Two relatively minor issues; the logistics of personal privacy in accommodations, and inappropriate fraternization. Both sound terrifically complicated until you realize somehow the rest of the world of Scouting and our co-ed Venturing program successfully manages these two issues.
Negative reactions to what I am writing here are predictable. Asking for equality from the privileged causes the privileged to react in fear and anger as though they are being oppressed or stand to lose something.
Before you react negatively tell me if it’s okay to define your child’s opportunities by gender, skin color, or sexual orientation.
If your answer is “no” why would you want that for any child?
If you’d like to read more about the gender from a man’s perspective I recommend Robert Webb’s insightful, hilarious, contemporary, and liberating discussion of gender in his memoir How Not to be a Boy.
Julianne Ruocco says
I agree whole-hardheartedly that girls should be allowed into BSA. I have a 16 year old daughter who has been in Girl Scouts since she’s been 5 years old. She has completed her Silver Award and is getting ready to start her Gold Award. Her brother, is a 14 years old Life Scout. Although he is 2 years younger, I feel that the BSA has taught him more life and leadership skills than his sister has learned through the Girl Scouts.I believe the key difference is that my son’s boy scout troop is “youth-led” vs being run by adults. We learn through the challenges we face and the mistakes that we make.
Alright, I’m still a scout and this is my opinion on it.
I could argue this all day- and why I thought this was a bad decision, but I won’t. Because people need this to happen for whatever reason, at least compromise and don’t ruin it for the Boy scouts. Make cub scouts co-ed, Then pull a Pack/den on Boy scouts. Make Boy scouts and girl scouts the equivalent of Venturing to sea scouts or boy scouts. The troop is the “pack” and the Boy scouts/girl scouts are the dens. So many activities will be together, while for some activities separating them and keeping many benefits of single gender groups. However, I beg BSA to not break the boys to benefit the girls here. By separating them the way I proposed, There can be two handbooks, very similar while still teaching what each person should know about their gender. (Puberty, respect for girls, consent, etc.)
Listened to our council’s CEO speak the other night. He had an interesting way of putting things: What we normally think of as a “unit” is best conceived as a group of parents getting together to collectively raise their kids in the best way possible. They choose to implement the BSA program as that “best way,” and form a group of like-minded parents who charter a unit, or form the unit under the aegis of another group of like-minded adults (Chartering Organization). They may believe that an all-male unit is the best way to raise their kids, they may believe that only Catholics in good standing can hold adult leadership positions, they may believe that gay familes should not be allowed in their unit, or they may believe that an inclusive policy is best. It’s really up to the CO- if you want a co-ed troop and your CO wants to remain all-male, then contact the council and they’ll help you find another CO. If you’re not Catholic and are at risk of being arbitrarily removed as Scoutmaster of your church-chartered Troop, then you can start a new one with a different CO. It’s still all BSA scouting.
That’s my understanding of what was said, anyway. https://www.facebook.com/chuck.eaton.731/posts/10155487924555239
Edward Steele says
I believe in the scouting program as implemented by BSA. I watch my scouts grow and develop, become leaders and confident young adults. My wife was a GSA leader and my daughter a girl scout and it was a pale inferior version of scouting. The girls had few leadership opportunities and the default response of council was too dangerous better not.
I believe in scouting why wouldn’t I want to let every young person enjoy it, learn from it and add to it.
I’m sure there will be a tear in my eye when that first young lady accepts her eagle. Then I will know that we have done what we can to share the gift that is scouting.
Greg S says
I’ve read the blog and all of the comments attached. I attended the presentation regarding this issue put on by my local Council. I an a District Commissioner and have been in and out of Scouting since the 50’s, both as a Scout (Eagle) and as a leader. In my time as a Scouter bothy as a leader and as a District Volunteer, I have seen many instances where girls/syballings have been involved in the program. I also have a daughter who was a Girl Scout and got as far as her Silver Award. She would have gotten the Gold, but her troop fell apart before she achieved it. B-P started the Boy Scouts in 1908 and with the help of his Sister and his wife, he helped start the Girl Guides. Both programs did well and spread around the world. He started the Girl Guides because he felt that girls needed a like program to his Boy Scout program and he was right. But the two programs were separate. Not Co-ed!! Several people here have said that one of or the biggest reason for the BSA to allow girls into the program is money. I agree in part. The BSA is starting to flounder where finances are concerned. I see it locally and on the National level with the increase in yearly dues and FOS. I also think that parents have approached the BSA and have lobbied for their daughters to be able to join at a lower level than just Venturing. Their daughters see what the boys are doing and want to have the same fun. Be it camping, building Pinewood Derby cars or shooting BB guns and rifles. They want the same experiences. I’m not against the girls having these experiences, but not in the Boy Scouts. The title of the organization says it all “BOY” Scouts. If the rest of the world wide organization wants to include younger girls, let them. But we are founded on an idea which is over 100 years old and has done the job that B-P and our original organizers envisioned. Leave it alone. We would be better to help the GSUSA make their program be what it used to be. Unfortunately that will never happen. The GSUSA does not want anything to do with the male gender, either from youth or parents. I could go on and on about why we should discourage or keep the BSA separate but i will stop here. We have Venturing and Sea Scouts, that should be enough. Just my 2 cents worth. Oh, and Mr Clarke, you are not the be all and end all of thoughts regarding this fine Organization. Stop putting people down when they disagree with you.
Jay Horsley says
Enjoy the podcast, long-time listener, first-time commenter…
As a volunteer Scouter for 16 years, currently Scoutmaster and FOS Family Chair, OA, District Award of Merit, etc., former everything from Asst. Den Leader through Cubmaster and father of 3 boys and 2 girls, I like the idea of opening Cub Scouts to be fully coed (one of my girls was a better Scout than any of my Scouts) and personally would like to see single-sex Troops, brother-sister units as it were, that did some activities together, but understand coed units are more likely, and I’m ok with that.
Now to the disagreement part, this paragraph: “It is easy to find hundreds of studies documenting gender-based developmental differences. These studies may not explain the difference between biological sex characteristics and assigned gender roles. Fact is those developmental differences are caused by assigned gender roles, not biological sex characteristics.”
This paragraph is lacking both in argument and logic. It is the assertion of personal feelings over facts — facts briefly acknowledged but dismissed with the hand wave by asserting something different. You acknowledge the developmental differences in the sexes, facts backed by studies (and anecdotally backed up by the experience of every parent), then assert them away as ONLY based on the assignment of gender roles. (Proof? Studies?) Yes, gender roles have changed, but biology hasn’t and won’t.
I believe a far stronger and truer case can be made that our Scouting program is suited to both boys and girls and Scouting values and methods are universal. No point of the Scout Oath and Law, and requirement of any advancement or merit badge is sex/gender specific. (Except inviting a boy to join scouts.) Thus the program should be open to all youths who wish to participate. I think this a far stronger and better argument than appealing to the more radical, and I believe wrong, assertion that the sexes are identical.
BTW, such an argument also has the additional advantage of being much more appealing to the traditionalists in our ranks, who will likely be the most vocal opponents of such a move within the organization. Although the most vocal opponents of the move as a whole will, IMHO, likely by the leadership of the GSUSA.
Clarke Green says
Thanks for the feedback Jay.
I was tempted to cite studies and arguments but my aim was a simple statement of why I think this is the right thing to do and how I arrived at that decision. I also decided against discussing organizational goals or reactions within the BSA or GSUSA that I thought distracted from the key issue.
On reflection I will edit “Fact is those developmental differences are caused by assigned gender roles, not biological sex characteristics.” to read “fact is many of those” I think this is more accurate and I appreciate your calling it to my attention. I went through hours of revising and editing on this post and I ran an earlier version past a colleague who has a PHD in developmental psychology asking them to point out any scientific inaccuracies who gave it a clean bill of health.
In my defense I was not claiming men and women are identical, just that they should be allowed identical opportunities.
Jay Horsley says
Thanks Scott. That change would eliminate most of my objection. I still believe the universality for both our sons and daughters of our Oath, Law and methods is a better and more convincing argument and avoids the minefield of gender role discussions that have swept one side of our culture and automatically puts the other on defensive.
Scott S says
I am a former scout, den leader, and scout master. I’ve got about 15 years in the last position. I have 5 sons that are eagle scouts and 1 step son that is an eagle. My other step son is almost done with his. This articles premise is based on inaccurate facts and is another attempt to destroy what boy scouts was designed around. The main misrepresentation is the other countries allowing girls in the boy scouts. Most of those countries only have scouting. They don’t have Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. So they have no other choice but to have joint troops.
Because of the girls dissatisfaction over the years with the Girl Scout program, BSA created the venture crews so that they could participate. This was designed to take into consideration all the issues related to having girls and boys in the same troop and the unique issues that may develop. If Mr. Green wants girls in the Boy Scouts so much, why isn’t he attacking the Girl Scout Program and demanding boys be allowed in there? Simple, the program they offer does not offer what Boy Scouts does. But if Mr. Green truly is looking at the whole picture, he has to look to the destruction of the Girl Scouts as well as the Boy Scouts as they were originally designed and chartered. Like our current national leadership, this is where Boy Scouts is headed. I have a 3 year old foster son that I thought I would have follow in my sons steps and go into scouting when he got older. With the corruption of the program and nationals stance, I’m not sure it will be what it once was or have the meaning it did. Mr. Green, keep your hypocrisy out of scouting and let the boys be boys.
I interviewed an Eagle Scout this morning on our morning commute; my son I’m a little surprised at some of the answers, I was expecting a little different given his perspective of the GSUSA. The voice of the scout:
Q – Even though you are done wearing the tan uniform as a youth, think back for me in your troop experience, how would your scouting experience have been impacted if girls were allowed to scout as members of your troop?
A – No different really than Venturing. We might have been a bit calmer and gotten more done.
Q – Really, why’s that?
A – Girls would have been better patrol leaders and more organized.
Q – Really, why’s that?
A – That’s just the way they are.
Q – What about letting girls earn Eagle?
A – If they do all the work, no special treatment.
Q – Could they do the work?
A – Have you seen Elizabeth’s Gold Award project?
Q – Actually, no.
A – You should.
Q – What about girls being a distraction at the middle school years and “putting a damper on boys being boys”?
A – No different than at school. And you’ve seen it in Venturing, girls will go do their thing and boys will go do their thing and we all scout together anyway.
Q – What about girls being a distraction at summer camp – you’ve had girl summer camp counselors before – was that a problem?
A – No, they were probably better at teaching the skills anyway.
Thanks, have a good day.
About me, Eagle scout mom and registered/trained adult member of BSA serving on committee at the troop level, wood badge trained, former COR (troop), former Committee chair (pack), and now assistant adviser in Venturing.. Leader in the GSUSA for my daughter’s troop (9th grade ‘senior’ scouts). Life member of GSUSA and earned the Gold Award in 1980 (then called the “First Class” – as GSUSA has changed the name of the highest award six times in ~100 years – eye roll, don’t go there). Trained trainer for BSA, GSUSA, ARC CPR/Cpro/WFA, CERT, and LNT. Three uniforms, three programs. Dues and more dues. Lots of scheduling juggling with a 14 YO girl still in GS and also in Venturing. Broke from sending two youth venturing scouts to Jamboree…
GSUSA – today is not the scouting organization I grew up in – I learned everything now taught in Scoutmaster SALT/ITOLS (whatever the course is now named) back in 8th and 9th grade – not much changes in the basics… and use those skills today to teach. Actually, having just inherited my GS leader’s (from the late 70’s) gear and supplies, am using some of her tools/materials she used when leading us. The circle of life in scouting (though it’s clogging up my garage).
Girl Scouting is a closed organization with its mission statement reading that Girl Scouts “builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place…” Boy Scouts is open, in that it strives to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.” Which one would you want to join if you knew nothing about either and only read the mission statements? Would girls who don’t join lack courage, confidence and character? Never do I see a movement for boys wanting to join GSUSA and GSUSA doesn’t want them (and the dad’s generally wash their hands of it anyway – I said generally) and after reading the reaction and knee-jerk letter from the Chairwoman of our national board, I am embarrassed for the organization. And I’m watching. GSUSA has its triennial convention in Ohio going on this week – this is a turning point for GSUSA’s board to start listening to the girl contact volunteers and girls to affect change. If they don’t and BSA votes next week or whenever it does to take girls, well, so be it with whatever happens. GSUSA leadership should be shaking in their corporate designer navy blue suits and fancy scarves, if it keeps the closed and oppressive lid on the girls and poor programming and BSA opens its doors…
A contrarian point, I think there is value to girls only and boys only programming and events. I think it is possible in one organization or a novel idea, better in that there is much more impact the two organizations could make to increase the impact and value of THE scouting movement in the United States by collaborating and leveraging the strengths of each, killing that which isn’t working in both, and continuing forward with what is working in each – finding a way to deliver scouting each within its own traditions and history but together in a join model open to all youth that works for the youth and the leader at the scouting family level. Like, could I just have one uniform for USA scouting, please?
I don’t have an answer to that but with both organizations in decline in both youth and adult membership, volunteerism being down overall in this country, and the impact of social media and the new norm our youth of today are experiencing, we need a better scouting program for all youth. If BSA leads the way, well, beaver begins with B – lead on… this Fox will be there.
James K says
With regards to published scientific studies, please refer to the following 3 articles, more are available through their references:
(1)”Gender-Specific Gene Expression in Post-Mortem Human Brain: Localization to Sex Chromosomes” (Neuropsychopharmacology. Feb, 2004),
(2) “Sex differences in response to children’s toys in nonhuman primates (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus)” (Evolution and Human Behavior, Nov 2002), and
(3) “His Brain, Her Brain” (Scientific American, Oct 2012)
Nick K says
I am an Eagle Scout, former assistant scoutmaster and have been a promoter of Scouting for years. Honestly, boys need a way where they can connect with other boys, no different than a fraternity in college. Kids will be able to act themselves and be able to actually express their feelings without girls around. We need to be able to provide similar experiences for girls (GSUSA was an abysmal program, even when my sister went through it in the 90’s), but we need to do so where we can preserve one of the few safe spaces for boys to grow. Scouting is one of the few organizations where it’s not a competition (like many sports and sports camps, clubs, etc), but simply a place to grow and learn about yourself. It becomes hard enough to hold most kids’ attention once they become teenagers, and it would only become harder if girls were a part of the organization.
Being a Scout Leader for the last 11 years I ashamed of how things are going.. and slightly confused of this as the girls or young women can be involved as Venturing Crew.. so why push to have them in BSA? First gay then gender identify male.. now this..
Clarke Green says
The question works both ways – why keep them out of the BSA?
I can guarantee you that it will be up to the charter org whether a unit will be mixed or single-gender. Moreover, I find it interesting how many people are decrying mixed-gender scouting with nothing but anecdotes.
There is precisely zero proper research out there that shows that single-gender education increases performance. Zero. However, there is ample evidence that it increases stereotyping and sexism – and let’s all be honest – we’ve all seen skits and offhanded remarks that are derogatory to girls and women at Scouting events.
It’s not 1910 anymore, and our program has changed in many ways to keep up with the times. It’s time to change again.
“increases performance” How is scouting about performance? Its about having fun and learning stuff while your at it. You see boys are girls often pretty separated at schools, say at lunch, which isn’t affected too much by society. But is by their own choices. When your with the other gender, definitely at that age, you feel you have to make yourself look good, while as when your at common ground, you don’t. You see, how comfortable you are changes your experiences. Boys and girls are not the same. Its that simple. Or at least that’s how I feel.
Just because the rest of the world does it – does it mean the US has to as well? We already have an organization for girls to be part of Scouts join a Venturing Crew. The Boy Scouts coveted achievement of “Eagle Scout” would not have the same meaning. This probably would have been approved and then crammed down the Boy Scouts throats during the Obama years… but its a little to late right now. If the Boy Scouts want the girls to join then it can be relooked at – but don’t pick up the baton if its not warranted or wanted.
Why would the Eagle Scout mean less because females would be able to earn it, too?
Steve B says
Agree w/ Gina; why would it mean less? The idea expressed above reminds me of the discussion we had on the relative merits of 13-year-old Eagles v. 17-year-olds. Requirements for Eagle do not mention gender as far as I know- other than those entailed by being an active (I.e., registered male) scout. I look forward to my first female Eagle scout!
CJ Fleming says
I believe girls being involved with scouting will not impact scouting in a negative way. I think it will allow scouting to be more versatile and will increase the amount of kids joining scouts. When a family in cub scouts is involved with their whole family, the girls can participate along with their brothers and I feel that this will keep the family more into scouting! Our pack is trying the family model and allowing the girls to be involved however, they will not be able to get the awards the boys can, but can be able to participate none the less. I am excited for this change! Girls can be in varsity and explorers. This is working very well and the non-scouting girls can participate in scout camps and are able to do that without any issues. Lets make this happen!
I’m ambivalent regarding co-ed vs. single-gender(sex) BSA. I’m more passionate about how we can deny girls the opportunity to earn Eagle Scout in particular and the benefits of the BSA outdoor program in general. Venturing tries to address the latter (at least for girls over 14) but what about the former?
The BSA’s initial call for a girl’s organization with which to “partner” was an obvious outreach to the GSUSA, but which that organization has apparently dismissed. Too bad, as the comments expressed here in the blog underscore the shortcomings of their program. To be sure, except for thin-mints and do-si-do’s (my favorite), their marketing has fallen way short: their “Gold Award” in no way compares with “Eagle Scout” in cache (and I’m the father of a Gold Award recipient).
I’m hopeful the GSUSA wakes up and doesn’t allow their once proud organization to become marginalized. But if they don’t I’m just as happy to join the rest of the world and welcome girls into our troop.
J. Mata says
I understand your rationale but disagree with your conclusion. Fundamentally you are ignoring the benefits of giving boys their own space. The dynamics are completely different. There is a war on boys going on in our society where just being male is considered a negative. Why the sudden interest by females in BSA? Is it because it is a successful program? Is it because it is one of the few places where it is good to be male? Is it because they want the benefits of being an Eagle scout that BSA has built up over a century of a Scouting? Maybe, but none of those reasons benefit our boys.
Clarke Green says
Challenging traditional gender roles is not going to war, it is questioning and examining what we do.
I thing we do have to recognize those aspects of traditional gender roles that are negative and ought to stop.
I don’t see a lot of value in the traditional gender roles we condition boys to fill, at least the ones I have experienced. I see a lot that is very damaging to boys and men.
Gender conditioning is the source of, not the antidote to, many of the problems our boys experience and we go on to experience as men.
It’s time to stop telling boys being a man means expressing and processing what you feel in certain ways, or defining how they relate to girls and women, or telling them there are fundamental differences between male and female emotions, thinking, or approaches to relationships.
It’s time to stop perpetuating the myth that there is some essential difference between men and women that define their roles, their opportunities, and their futures.
What discussions, behavior, or activities crucial to the development of boys cannot be conducted in the presence of girls or women? That’s an honest question, I really can’t think of anything.
I think BSA wants more membership money because membership is declining. So they are coming after girls and taking them away from GSUSA. Simple as that. They can act like they suddenly want to be in inclusive but it took 100 years for that to suddenly become something they want to do? Come on. It’s about money and membership numbers.
“This division assumes girls and boys are fundamentally different and develop differently.”
I’ve been an professional educator for 30 years. I can unequivocally state the fact that they are and do. The are not even close.
Just because the “Girl Scouts” have lost all focus, doesn’t mean the BSA has an obligation to tank it’s own program trying to make up for it.
It would be a death blow to the BSA.
Daniel DuBois says
Respectfully, while I understand that you as a professional educator feel you can, with certainty, say that boys and girls are different by the time you teach them, that in and of itself does not counter the argument that the observed difference between girls and boys is primarily due to the extent to which we socially condition them, rather than due to biological nature.
More importantly, you’ll need to cite something other than your personal feelings to make the outlandish claim that permitting females will “tank the program”.
J. Mata says
Jared: Very well said…and very true!
I spent summers in multiple summer camps that were coed so I do not see why there should be boy and girt scout groups why not just scout groups as that so dated
Dave McGrath says
Done and done. The 69th Rangers BPSA Scout Group is already integrated and fully inclusive. As a prior 17 year BSA scout master I can say together is better. For everyone. I’m not waiting. We’ve already done it. Y’all come on in, the water is fine.
Dave – thank you for stepping up, stepping out and forging a path. Makes we want to relo to Idaho.
Yup, you nailed it. All the way down to letting Chartered Orgs pick the membership criteria. BSA should be neutral on that part…just design and distribute the best youth leadership training program in the world to all comers.
This can’t happen soon enough.
I fully agree. I know my daughter would have loved to be a Scout. Not Girl Scouts, but what my son does in the BSA. Hopefully by the time I’m a grandparent Scouting will be co-ed. 🙂
M Stegman says
I disagree with you. As a mom of a soon to be Eagle Scout, I believe boys need a space to themselves just as girls do. Every organization doesn’t need to be co-educational. And it has nothing to do with not gender issues, or ability to keep up or anything else. It has to do with providing boys a space to not compete with girls. Our American education system favors girls and boys need a place that they aren’t competing, where they can be themselves during the awkward teenage yeas, and learn to be good men. We are a very family friendly unit and sisters are allowed to accompany us on family camping trips and be at meetings, they just aren’t part of the actual activity. I do believe that everyone deserves the same opportunities and that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts should provide similar programming as applicable to the needs of the specific group.
J. Mata says
I agree completely with you
I do think girls should have the opporunity to enjoy the benefits of the BSA that we all have had in the past and look to instill in our boys in the current and future. What I struggle with is what to do with the Girl Scouts of America. I don’t want to see a BSA vs GSA situation and cause girls to have to choose and thereby weaken the GSA even further. There is value in both organizations and there is definitely success with scouting elsewhere in the world having coed units. If this were to work, would the GSA need to be merged into the BSA?
Now if the BSA would sell cookies instead of popcorn, there would be no complaints at all:-)
It’s actually GSUSA, not GSA. And they are adamantly opposed to BSA allowing girls in to the BSA program. The problem is, is they are their own worst enemy. The curriculum sucks and even though they have badges and patches, it’s nothing like BSA. They don’t use charter orgs so no one really owns the organization and there’s no succession plan for troop leaders. The troop leader is usually a scout-nerd mom who takes a few more girls (avg 5) and makes a troop. If she gets tired of doing it, the troop folds and 4 other girls are out there flapping, looking for another troop to join. And if the mom doesn’t like to camp, well, they won’t do much outdoors stuff. The programs are just night and day. You will never see the two merge. Even though they were both formed from BP, they long ago divorced.
Michael Stearman says
I have always been a supporter or girls in scouting. My daughter was a Girl Scout while her brothers were scouts. However because my wife and I were leaders and if we went camping or to an activity, the younger girl got to and or had to go. When she turned 14 we organized a venture crew and then she embraced scouting over girl scouts. Including three Philmount treks, two as youth and one as an adult. I would look forward to my granddaughter being the first female eagle scout to go along with her two uncles and 6 cousins.
As a SM with 16 and 14 year old sons in the troop, I like the fact that we can go into the woods and get away from the regular social trials. If a mom camps with us, the scouts are good to go. But if a young lady camps with us, the boys act differently. The boys do not act as if they are free to say what they want around their buddies for fear of offending the lady, feeling foolish, or trying to impress her. They truly act in a different manner and I do not think that is a good thing. We camp one weekend a month for a total of 48 hours out of about 700 for a month so our boys have the rest of their time to socialize with young ladies in school, youth groups, etc. I do not think that taking a young man away from society for 48 hours to convene with nature somehow stops them from interacting with women and harms their future development. Boys pester each other, argue, hone their skills, and sometimes get into fights as they are free to learn who they are in the woods with a bunch of their buddies. Of course, it is truly unjust that young ladies do not get an outdoor experience in GSA, but why thrust them into the BSA just for that reason? Why can’t the GSA make an outdoor experience? Just because they do not cannot be the sole reason to make it happen. I know that I can be missing the chance to help teach and train a young lady woodsman skills, or missing my chance to see a wonderful young lady as an outstanding scout, but I think they would be better served to have a few mothers and a dad or two, if necessary, to help them get into the woods one weekend a month. Isn’t there a necessity for ladies to commune with other ladies in the woods as well, away from the social trials of being with young men? I know it can work perfectly well, but if their is a benefit to being separated for 48 hours, why not keep it?
Lee Amon says
I am in 100% agreement with you.
I am a former scoutmaster, and current venturing crew advisor. The young women in our crew are outstanding scouts – I wish they had been in my troop when I was scoutmaster
Lee Amon says
and…. I have long been advocating your stance on allowing chartering organizations to make the call. That is the current model for Venturing and Sea Scouts, and it works.
You want an all-male troop – Awesome – You want an all female troop – fine – you want a coed troop -very cool
As parents and youth troop shop, they can find the unit that works for them
I’ve had nothing but positive experiences in a co-ed Venture group dedicated to shooting sports. Membership has gone up and down over the years, but it was not uncommon to have more girls than boys on the shooting line… and most of those girls shot better than the boys.
Thank you for your support of co-ed scouting. Oddly as a female scoutmaster I still hear “you are a female how can YOU be a scoutmaster?” My response has also been much of what you stated. My daughter has watched my son go through Cub Scouts and participated in many den and pack activities. When she was old enough for Girl Scouts, I joined with her. Finding like-minded outdoor families was difficult though. 7 years later and I am still her leader (as I am my son’s). We have 7 young ladies that LIKE the traditional values scouting provides with all that the outdoors brings. It’s easy to say that the Girl Scouts should change to fit what these young ladies want, but it has yet to happen. My daughter wants to be a Boy Scout. She sees everything her brother does and wants that. Try as I might, I cannot provide the same support to my daughter’s troop. I want the same for my daughter and hope she has the opportunity!
“Scouting in the United States divided by gender.”
This is incorrect, Scouting in the United Stated is divided by the sexual anatomy a person possesses. The term gender is being used incorrectly here, by the BSA and on BSA applications for membership.
“Negative reactions to what I am writing here are predictable. Asking for equality from the privileged causes the privileged to react in fear and anger as though they are being oppressed or stand to lose something.”
Mr Green, I am highly disappointed in this context, tone and usage of this statement towards those who disagree with you. It’s truly shameful. After you “predict” the negative responses you then proceed blanket insult everyone who disagrees with you.
You think that we are privileged because we choose to volunteer in an organization that for over 100 years is designated for a group that is biologically male and oppose it caving to political correctness? You think that boys who had no choice at all in the determination of their sexual anatomy at birth are privileged because they belong to a group that is designated for those with the same sexual anatomy?
As someone who has listened to about 320 of your 354 podcasts, I thank you for the past wisdom and stories but I wont have time to listen any more because now that I am designated as “privileged” I will be out oppressing others while eating caviar and drinking Dom Perignon.
Clarke Green says
No insult intended, just an observation of the way I have reacted myself in the past when first confronted with the idea that I am privileged, it made me snippy and dismissive. I have to say that my prediction has held out.
Men have enjoyed exclusive privileges in civil life and in the workplace in the past and still do today, I can own that history. That’s what I am speaking of when I refer to privilege, not Dom and caviar.
I use the term “gender” advisedly and point out the difference between gender and biology, my simple assertion is we should not exclude people from opportunities (privileges) based on their gender or their biology which includes things like skin color.
In the end there is no compelling argument for denying girls the opportunities available to boys, and we’ve learned from experience “separate but equal” will not do. Permitting women and girls the same rights and opportunities as men and boys does not decrease the rights or opportunities available to men or boys.
As for political correctness, I have always regarded politically correct terms and names as common courtesy but I don’t really understand where that comes into this discussion.
No insult intended, as well, but with your type of logic, there is no need for separate Mens divisions and Womens divisions in the Olympics. There is no privilege to be a man, only in your filtered assessment of being a man vs being a woman. We are very different..but I would never assign a privilege to being one vs the other… an apple is different from an orange- but one does not have priviledge over the other. You see, with very few exceptions, we are not asexual beings. I assume you may have raised children of your own of different sexes…as have I..and I am here to tell you, while, discounting your academic meandering, there will always be great differences between the two sexes…..we are supposed to be different because each sex brings something to the table…….but to do that during the formative teen years with raging hormones on both sides is a recipe for disaster. They need separate experiences…separately. Go over to the Girl Scouts and help improve their high adventure and outdoor programs…but don’t tear ours down in the name of progress. You are destroying one (BSA) and the other is already suffering. Focus on improving Girl Scouts to be an equal experience…but never lower BSA standards. This is not about civil rights either…which appears to be the case you are trying to make. Boys need to be boys without girls around….and having raised three kids of our own and also having grown up with three sisters, there is no doubt in my mind that your social experiment will damn the future of Scouting forever. Your proposal makes the Scout experience no different than their everyday social jousting found in school…complete with all of the drama, posturing, gossip, and BS that comes with teen life……. and Scouting needs to be much more ! SCOUTING NEEDS TO BE AN ESCAPE FROM THAT!
The Boy Scouts of America is not the only place that young can gain the opportunities you speak of, it is however, the only place that young men can gather and gain those opportunities without the undue influence of young women around.
Permitting women into the Boy Scouts of America, does, in fact, affect the experience that the boys have. That is undeniable.
I am so glad you posted this…because it helps shine a light on what is wrong with the direction the BSA has been taking the last few years. The idea that you can blur the lines between boys and girls is nothing short of a liberal academic that does not belong in this 100 year old institution. Go ahead and destroy the last vestiges of a once great orgainzation. You have seen what has happened to membership . You have seen what the growth of Trail Life has done. Our Troop barely survived after being asked to leave by our former chartering organization. It took us 3 years to recover…but we have done it. We will never recover if this type of manipulation is allowed to continue. I am an eagle Scout and have served with pride in various capacities since the 1970’s. Besides, lets say you want to put into place your little social experiment- can you imagine the logistical problems? Two deep becomes 4 deep….who tents with who? What about the physical differences at certain ages? Maybe if Girl Scouts had not lost their way 8 years ago, they would not be suffering too. This very idea that the destruction of the BOY Scouts is a good idea because you think we put limits on teens based on their sex is flawed from the start. Please stop the insanity and don’t mess with our organization. Boys and Girls ARE different..and were created that way by design. Help the Girls Scouts provide the necessary opportunity…but leave the BSA alone. Why this website promotes this idea is beyond me….but the silent majority is against it.
Rick, the idea it’s an experiment is kinda thrown out the window when you realize every other organization around the world in world scouting is coed, including Baden Powell’s original U.K. Scouts.
Most likely our friends in UK, Australia, Canada can help with some guidance from their experiences doing coed in a similar culture.
J Hamilton says
J Hamilton says
I realized too late that my comment didn’t clearly state with whom I agreed 100%. That would be with Rick!!! I apologize for reacting as if this were Facebook.
Merle Pinney says
Rick, Thank you.
I believe you are absolutely correct!
I will go as far as to say this is a stupid idea pushed forward by the liberal agenda
Rob Fisher says
I predicted “Scouting USA” 25 years ago. GSA is floundering. Girls want the outdoor experience as much as the boys. Let them have it. As long as the leaders can be there.
I think it’s important for boys to have an organization that is just boys. My boys went to coed school until high school where it was all boys. They loved the brotherhood at that high school to this day. There were plenty of coed opportunities at football games, school dances, etc. But there’s something about having a few places left where sexual tension is not an issue that is important. Please don’t make the boy scouts coed. Please.
Steve M says
Couldn’t agree more with you Clarke!
Are we expecting our boys to be good citizens, positive role models, and leaders in a society devoid of women after they leave Scouting? No, so why are training them that way?
I disagree, we already have co-ed organizations like Venture Scouts and Sea Scouts. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are a place where boys and girls can learn in a separate environment away from the opposite sex and can be themselves. I agree it won’t be a big issue at the younger years but as the boys and girls hit their teenage years they definitely act different around the opposite sex. They try to show off, things they liked to do and they learned from all of a sudden become uncool, etc. We need a place to develop boys into young men and young men into men. I won’t even go into the issues and responsibility we will add to Boy Scouts on hiking and camping trips with opposite sex teenagers because that is not my biggest concern. I have seen these issues already with some of our joint activities with a local girl scout troop during community days.
Bob Glennon says
Clarke, I wholeheartedly agree!
Unfortunately the survey that was released this summer was horribly biased. I’m hoping the BSA will decide to go fully co-ed and I support the idea that Chartered Organizations should have the flexibility to modify as needed.
P B says
I don’t agree at all. Boys and girls are different, and they develop differently. That may not fit the prevailing narrative, but it is true. It does not mean that girls are less capable, just different. it’s biology.
FWIW, my wife was a Girl Scout and is probably a better outdoorsman than me. Girl Scouts suited her fine.
You said it best, your WIFE. The program is not the same anymore. I too am a solid outdoors person BUT the GSUSA program is not moving fast enough to keep the girls who like the outdoors, and wany to be in it, engaged.
If the GSUSA program isn’t keeping up, then why not invest the time and effort improving that program rather than imposing on another organization? Plus, if you force BSA to accept girls, are you also going to force GSUSA to accept boys in their program? I doubt many mothers of daughters in that program would be open to that idea. I agree with the previous post from Kevin – there are already co-ed organizations that fit the bill, so that is clearly not the issue here.