Girls joining The Boy Scouts of America

How the change has impacted the Scouts

Scouts BSA uniform.
Courtesy of Spangdahlem via Creative Commons.

Scouts BSA uniform. Courtesy of Spangdahlem via Creative Commons.

Georgia Mintz, Author

On October 11, 2017, The Boy Scouts of America announced that they would be allowing girls to join the program. As effective of February 2019, girls were given the opportunity to join Scouts BSA, a new name for the previous named, “Boy Scouts.” Scouts BSA is an organization that allows boys and girls of ages 11-17 to earn the same badges, merits and do all the same activities that were previously exclusive to only Boy Scouts. This change has varying opinions, with some thinking it is a wonderful idea and will give girls more opportunities, and others believing that this new program will deprive young girls of some necessary life skills.  

Boy Scouts say that the reason they decided to allow girls to join is that they strive to develop character and leadership for young people, no matter the gender, to as many children as possible as they help shape the next generation of leaders.

Girl Scouts put out a statement saying that, “The benefit of the single-gender environment has been well documented by editors, scholars, other girl and youth-serving organizations, and Girl Scouts and their families.” Girl Scouts are saying they are much better suited for girls, and that BSA does not tailor to the needs of young women. Girl Scouts actually filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against BSA, saying that this change in name can cause market confusion and that BSA is stealing Girl Scouts trademark. The lawsuit is moving forward with all the claims made by GSUSA, even though BSA tried to dismiss multiple claims.

Another reason for the change is that Boy Scouts see a lot of Girl Scouts that tag along at Boy Scout meetings, and see many parents who have trouble accommodating to both schedules. Having to shuffle back and forth between Girl and Boy Scout activities can become overwhelming for parents, and girls can become much more interested in the programs offered in Boy Scouts than Girl.  Boy Scouts saw both these struggles and tried to resolve them.

Senior Abby Houchin, an active Girl Scouts member, said, “Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts in my opinion are drastically different. Boy Scouts are very focused on camping and serving projects, while Girl Scouts are more focused on building up the younger girls to be young leaders.” Some girls may be interested in what BSA has to offer, while some girls prefer to stay in Girl Scouts because that is where their interests lie. Abby goes on to say that she, “would not be interested in joining Boy Scouts just based on the amount of people in the troop who would not be accepting of it, because it is a new thing.” Throughout history, the fear of not joining a predominantly male activity is common. Abby says that she would be fearful to join because of the amount of boys who would not be very accepting, or in worse cases, make fun of her. The decision to put yourself out there or try something new can be very intimidating to younger kids.

This decision to allow girls into Boy Scouts has very different opinions. Girl Scouts say they are fitted to empower girls and build them up to be strong leaders. They argue that BSA will not do this for young women. On the other hand, Boy Scouts say that with BSA, girls who are interested in learning the skills taught in Boy Scouts now can, and it takes a lot of stress off the parents. A lifelong Girl Scout says that she would not be interested in joining BSA, however many girls would be. The option for girls to join BSA is not going away, and for some this is a great thing, for others it is a threat.