Boy Scouts Accepting Girls

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Boy Scouts Accepting Girls

Justin Oei, Staff Writer

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Last week, the Boy Scouts of America formally allowed girls to become members of all their programs, including the rank of eagle scout, which many OP students and alumni throughout the years have earned. I interviewed some OP eagle scouts — Peter Ainsworth ‘20, James Bowe ‘18, and Joe Nowacki ‘17  —  on their thoughts about this landmark move.

 

JO: What was your initial reaction when the Boy Scouts announced that they would admit girls to their ranks?

PA: My initial reaction was why?  That’s not going to work out because almost all events in the Boy Scouts are tailored to boys only.  Adding girls will just mess everything up.  Additionally, I can’t think of any girl who would want to join Boy Scouts.  They have Girl Scouts for a reason.  It’s just like Boy’s and Girl’s State; they have different programs for each gender.  The Boy Scouts only added girls to get more members, but this might backfire.  Many people may leave the program because they disagree.

JB: My initial reaction was positive because I saw it as a step in the right direction for the organization. Participation rates have gone down over the years due to many parents seeing it as an organization with outdated policies, so I saw it as another way for the organization to modernize and share its message with even more people.

JN: I’m excited that the Boy Scouts have decided to allow girls to join.  While I think that a male-only environment can sometimes be beneficial to the development of boys into their roles as men, it limits the perspectives that may shape them into these roles.  The major change I look forward to is a renewal of perspectives of what it means to be a “man,” as one who can positively interact with women, LGBTQ+ individuals, etc.  Maybe the program will even change from a rearing of young men to a development of the self, whoever they may be, in a positive manner.

 

JO: What implications do you think this move will have on the programs offered by the BSA?

PA: Boy Scout camps will have to change entirely.  As it is now, camps only have accommodations for boys.  Accommodations will have to be added for girls like bathrooms, shower houses, tents, etc.  I don’t think it will work out well.

JB: I think the implications will be limited in that, from what I understand, the BSA will integrate the Girl Scouts but keep the interactions between genders separate. I believe this will have little effect on male members, but female members would now have access to an organization with more resources, opportunities, and general prestige than those present in the current Girl Scouts organization. I also believe that if the BSA does fully integrate the girl scouts, they could have all members sell the much more popular cookies instead of its current popcorn, which, of course, could mean more funds.

JN: The programs offered by the BSA may change dramatically! I think they’ll keep their core curriculum but maybe they’ll integrate skills often gendered as “feminine” such as emotional health or sewing! I offer you this thought piece: (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/10/13/upshot/boy-scouts-learn-girl-scouts.html).  
Maybe the program won’t change, but boys will be offered new perspectives on things they often enjoy.  At the very worst, girls will not feel welcome (i.e. will be harassed, etc) and the program will fortify itself as a male-dominated system.

 

JO: How do you think this will affect the BSA’s membership and its relationship with other youth groups and it’s sponsors? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), for example, withdrew its sponsorship of individual troops over BSA’s acceptance of LGBTQ+ scouts.
PA: Some sponsors may revoke their support, but it really depends on the specific troop since most sponsors support one troop.

JB: I think this move will have less of an effect on sponsorships and relationships when compared to the decision to accept LGBTQ+ members did, mostly because the genders will most likely still be divided. Also, I think that this integration may attract new sponsors who had previously avoided the organization due to it’s older, more out of touch, policies.

JN: I think that the BSA’s membership will only lose individuals who would have been detrimental to the organization as a whole (those who would have been racist, sexist, or otherwise originally).  

 

As you can see, the decision, while hailed as a victory by civil rights groups, has proven to be polarizing among members of the Boy Scouts and has evoked strong responses from the Girl Scouts of America. As Bob Dylan once said, however, “the times- they are a-changing.”

Photo Credit: New York Daily News.

If you look carefully, you can see OP Alum Mark Trella in the photo.

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