Should gender define Scouting?
This week I want to discuss responses to a post I published last week about gender in Scouting: Girls in the BSA.
The post garnered lot’s of responses both for and against the idea of the BSA becoming a co-ed organization, and I’ll discuss some of the objections in this podcast. The question of gender and Scouting can be an explosive one since gender issues have caused much consternation and disagreement over the years. Fortunately nearly all the Scouters who replied to last weeks post did so in a reasonably level tone, something uncommon in the average online discussion.
A rough calculation of the responses revealed that 45% favored the change enthusiastically, 37% disagreed with equal enthusiasm, and 18% thought it was a good idea but expressed varied concerns.
Organizations usually embrace cultural change slower than their individual members. Any organization of national scope and more than a century of service is likely to have found itself behind the curve because they are reluctant to face cultural realities – especially when championing a set of values and ethics trumpeted as unchanging and unalterable. It’s clear, however, that Scouting organizations have changed how they interpret and express their values many times. The motivations for change come from internal discussions and external pressures, things evolve, things change and these changes are not all bad.
In This Podcast
Gender and Scouting
This podcast is brought to you by Patrons & Backers
Happy Wanderer Opening Music
Get my book The Scouting Journey
Get my book So Far So Good
See all of my tee shirt designs!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS
Daniel Luechtefeld says
I support full, equal opportunity of girls in Scouting, but disagree with Clarke’s assertion that masculine behavior is inherently negative when boys congregate in single-sex environments. The camaraderie of loud, competitive, occasionally *controlled” aggression are inherent sex-related traits – not gender conditioning – and Scouting should continue to provide a safe place for young men to explore and shape these traits to promote the Oath and Law. In my own Scouting history, I drifted away from Scouts and toward team sports when Scouting no longer provided me a space to enjoy those things. A Scout is “brave”, and we must cultivate both moral and physical courage. Preparation for physical courage requires understanding a world influenced by masculine aggression and harnessing that trait for good, not shrinking from it.
Clarke Green says
Notions of masculinity and femininity are created by gender conditioning not biologically determined traits. Each of us displays aggressive, competitive and loud behavior over a very broad spectrum, not all biological males are typically masculine, not all females are typically feminine. What’s considered masculine or feminine varies broadly and changes frequently.
That being said all Scouts, no matter what their gender, should learn how to regulate their aggression, competitiveness, and tone according to the Scout oath and law, doing that is in no way dependant on a single-sex environment.
So that’s your spin! There’s no difference between boys and girls?
Clarke Green says
You are incorrectly concluding I believe there is no difference between boys and girls because I think boys and girls should have equal opportunities. A more accurate conclusion of my position is there is no difference between boys and girls so significant it prevents them from having the same opportunities or working together as Scouts, and to be truly equal these opportunities cannot be separate.
Kelley Tansey says
Thank you for your positive take on the BSA including all girls. As a female Cubmaster and den leader, I have been very discouraged by some of the posts I have seen since the big announcement. I have been a volunteer for nine years with the BSA and have grown to love this program and what it offers young people. I see only good things from expanding the program to all children instead of just half the population. When I read posts that say that girls don’t belong in the program, that grown men want to return their Eagle because it will mean nothing now that a girl can earn one, I’m left to wonder two things. Does that mean these posters think that I (as a female Scouter) don’t belong in the program? Do they really think that because a girl can meet the same exact requirements a boy does to achieve Eagle that it somehow devalues the Eagle? I also think some of these posters never really understood the values of the scouting program. Either that or I have misunderstood the program. As for the ones who think girls should stay out and women such as myself don’t belong- I’d like to see you try to run the organization without us. I have yet to see a unit that is successfully run 100% by men. If my time labor and effort is good enough to serve the boys in my Pack, then my daughters are good enough to be in it too. I’m not going anywhere- and I can’t wait to see what is coming in 2019.
Clarke Green says
Thanks for that Kelley, well said.
When the privilege that men enjoy is challenged some of us get angry and spiteful because we think we are losing something. It’s unfortunate that they turn on girls and women in the way they have online in comment streams. It’s easy to insult people if you never have to face them in person.
Official announcement from the BSA: http://www.scoutingnewsroom.org/press-releases/bsa-expands-programs-welcome-girls-cub-scouts-highest-rank-eagle-scout/
The operational paragraph indicates only Cub Scouts will be affected next year: Starting in the 2018 program year, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank. This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.
John M says
When the Boy Scouts agreed to cave on LGBT issues it lost 30% of its base. The Southern Baptist Convention alone kicked out hundreds if not thousands of Troops. Many Red Blooded traditionalist and conservative Americans saw the Boy Scouts as a last bulwark against secularism in American culture. This is about increasing revenue, plain and simple. I am pulling my boy out of Scouting. The money changers have set up shop in the Temple.
James K says
I agree that ‘Gender” should not define ‘Scouting’. And I am fully convinced (as was BP and GBB – two of my personal heros) that ‘Scouting’ is appropriate to form the character of young people for the betterment of all society.
However, allowing one ‘general concept’ to define, or not define, another ‘general concept’ is not a concrete statement of which a concrete discussion can be held. The concrete question to be discussed is, “Should the Boy Scouts of America have membership standards for a given program.” And it is that question that the national organization can mull over, and put something onto paper. Further, local organizations can then adopt and utilize the program according to their needs. So, I’m basically in agreement that national can do whatever they desire to do. I will be much more concerned with the local implementation, and assure that it does not go cross-wise my own strongly held standards.
As for the ‘high-profile subject’ of the day, the BSA tried to become more ‘culturally relevant’ back in the seventies, much to its detriment. With regards to single-sex or co-ed educational programs – we can find studies to support (as I did in my posting under the previous article) one position or the other. It really is important for you to adhere to the educational theory that fits with your strongly held beliefs.
Jeff B says
You’re right, Clarke. It is time and it is the right thing to do. If the change is implemented with the charter org. being able to determine whether or not a unit should have girls, that should make some of the naysayers’s less unhappy.
Bob Theisen says
Out of 168 countries that have Scouting 13 are boys only and not co-ed. Countries like Bahrain, Kuwait, Liberia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and then the United States!!! Thats sad that the US is part of the list.
I keep hearing that statistic, but I do not believe it is accurate. The United States has had girls involved in scouting for 100+ years. Both the Boy and Girl scouts fall under the “scouting movement” umbrella in the U.S. In the other countries listed, did they have a parallel scouting organization for girls?
This appears to mostly be a programming issue. Had the GSA been able to develop a program to appease most of its base, then there might not have been an issue. I do think it is sad that the GSA, which is a very notable American institution with a lot of history, will get hit hard by this decision.
Robert R. Burg says
Why is the BSA suddenly pretending it is embarking on a great moral crusade seeking inclusiveness? Most realize the BSA has a declining participation rate and opening up the BSA program to girls could/should offset those losses. The effort to open up the program is an economic one – plain and simple. Why are we not being honest here?
Clarke Green says
I am not the BSA, not an offical or spokesperson, not endorsed or sponsored by the BSA. What I have attempted to make clear is I support this because it is the right thing to do, I don’t really care about the the organizational imperatives that may or may not be involved.
I agree with you Robert. Why can’t they just be honest about the motivation of this change?
Clarke Green says
Who are “they”?
Brian S. says
Thanks for this, Clarke! While I’m not currently involved in scouting, I’m an Eagle Scout and was an assistant scoutmaster for over three years. Now that I have a kid getting into Cub Scout age, I’m thinking about scouting again. Being exclusive solely on gender lines, to me, goes against the Scout Law tenets of being “helpful, friendly, courteous, [and] kind” – all things that adult leaders should exemplify for the youth. I think it would be beneficial for my son to be part of an organization in which he can see that girls and women are just as capable as boys, and I’d love to see the day that my daughters have the opportunity to be recognized as Eagle Scouts.
It’s always good to be reminded that the organizational barge is turning, even if it’s slow!