The Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared.”
But how to prepare for this?
Even in a day and age in which gender-bending has become so commonplace that a state was boycotted for insisting on separate bathrooms for males and females, the Boy Scouts’ decision to allow girls into Cub Scouts, and a pathway to Eagle Scout, came out of the blue.
The decision sent shockwaves throughout the country. We can understand both sides.
For his part, Georgia-Carolina Council Boy Scout Executive Daniel Rogers says simply, “We are in the business of helping prepare young people for life. We look forward to doing just that with the youth of the CSRA.”
That’s an admirable, intrepid interpretation – even coming from a man who has hiked thousands of miles across America.
Then again, it does say “Boy” in the title of the organization.
And while Cub Scout packs will be separated by gender, the Girl Scouts – notably begun in Savannah by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912 – understandably feel beset by the Boy Scouts’ incursion into their territory.
“The Boy Scouts’ house is on fire,” the Girl Scouts said 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 accelerant to the house fire by recruiting girls.”
That’s a little hyperbolic and unfair. But the angst is to be expected. The two organizations have coexisted for over 100 years and have largely left each other’s constituencies alone, save for a few programs such as the Scouts’ coed Explorer program.
This must seem an existential threat to the Girl Scouts, despite its roster of some 1.8 million girls – not much less than the Boy Scouts’ 2.3 million – as well as their high-profile position as purveyors of seasonal cookies.
Maybe. Or perhaps it’s the application of a very American principle that boys and girls should be introduced to early in life: competition.
But it must be said that, in the context of today’s often ludicrous attempts to erase all differences between the two genders, the introduction of girls into the Boy Scouts will be troubling to many.
Rightly or wrongly, this decision – which is no doubt driven by business considerations such as growth – will be viewed as another artificial blurring of the lines between boys and girls.
No opportunities should be denied someone because of gender. But that doesn’t mean girls and boys are the same, or have the same needs and sensibilities – or that every program, every organization has to be gender-neutral.
Indeed, many are coming to believe more, not less, in the value of single-gender education.
The Girl Scouts have made that point in the wake of the Boy Scouts’ announcement.
“We believe strongly in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides, which creates a free space for girls to learn and thrive,” the organization wrote in a blog post. “The benefit of the single-gender environment has been well-documented by educators, scholars, other girl- and youth-serving organizations, and Girl Scouts and their families. Girl Scouts offers a one-of-a-kind experience for girls with a program tailored specifically to their unique developmental needs.”
We have little doubt an organization as fine as the Boy Scouts is prepared for this.
The question remains, are we?