What indignity will be piled on the Girl Scouts next?
They’ve fought off boycotts of their cookie drives engineered by misguided people who tried to link the stellar organization to abortion and family programing overseas.
Rest assured; the dollars you hand over for Thin Mints do not fund abortions elsewhere. Those delicious calories are pure.
Like other organizations that serve youth, Girl Scouting has found itself competing for new members against a wide variety of other options offered to young people.
But now they’re up against the Boy Scouts. Hoping to bolster its own falling membership, Boy Scouting is inviting girls to join their ranks.
Beginning next year, the younger Cub Scout dens will be able to be either all boys or all girls. And Cub Scout packs can chose to be either all one sex or open to both. Boy Scout officials even dangled the prospect of girls earning the coveted status of Eagle Scout.
Girls, be prepared — and wary!
Admittedly, a far younger version of me would have been enthused at the prospect becoming an Eagle Scout. What better way for a young girl to illustrate her abilities and preparation for life as a solid citizen are equal to any boy’s. In my case, there would have been the additional lure of keeping up with two older brothers who earned that illustrious rank.
However, there is less here than one might suppose. Girls have nothing to prove by making it in Boy Scouting — and possibly less to gain. Boy Scouting, after all, is not a male equivalent of Girl Scouting, nor does its programming excel its counterpart’s, as far as girls are concerned. It has a different philosophy, lacking the inclusive and forward-thinking ethos that has long defined Girl Scouting.
“Separate but equal” is a rarely achieved standard when it comes to single-sex organizations. In fact, Girl Scouting is somewhat of a stellar anomaly in this regard. But the vitality of the Girls Scouts is on par with, if not ahead of, Boy Scouting.
Part of that may be due to its historical roots. The two began almost simultaneously more than 100 years ago. But as Boy Scouting has long clung to the idea of tradition, Girl Scouting has taken a much more progressive approach.
Even today, the language of Girl Scouting consistently emphasizes constant scrutiny and change. The organization stresses that it is “always evaluating” and that leaders “listen to what girls, parents and volunteers tell us they like most” and “take action to keep our program relevant and engaging.”
As an organization, Girl Scouting has remained nimble, flexible, positioned to react to individual girls’ and community needs. The dictates of how a troop can be configured is left to local leadership.
Girl Scouting was not late to react to societal changes such as LGBT rights. It long ago backed off from adherence to codes about faith. Atheists are welcome, and girls can self-define how they want to conceptualize the Girl Scout Promise that begins, “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country….”
In much the same way, Girl Scouting moved into STEM, building new curriculum around robotics and mechanical engineering when it became apparent that more women are needed in those fields.
By comparison, until very recently, Boy Scouting was much more stagnant. For some, that consistency may have served it well. But it put Boy Scouting at a disadvantage in other ways.
It took the Boy Scouts until 2013 to end the ban on openly gay members. Only two years later did it find the tolerance to end the exclusion of gay men from leadership. And it was only this year that Boy Scouting announced that it would accept transgender young people.
Girl Scouting has no patience for such stalling. Its resiliency is based on its willingness to innovate. Frankly, Girl Scouting doesn’t need its male counterpart open to our gender.
We’ve got our own organization that is serving the needs of girls and young women just fine, thank you.
Reach Mary Sanchez at firstname.lastname@example.org.