Girls now have the option to join Boy Scouts and that's a good thing

FILE - In this May 23, 2012 file photo, Natalie Benson, 5, and Holly Sweezer, 6, carry extra flags as Boy and Girl Scouts place flags on each of the 5,000 headstones at the Grand Rapids Veterans State Cemetery in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Katie Greene/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

Last Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America came to the decision to welcome girls into their ranks. Girls are currently able to join four different scouting programs - Venturing, Sea Scouting, Exploring and STEM. This decision will now allow girls to partake in an identical, but separate, program enabling them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. This announcement was met with outrage from Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) as well as parents from both sides.

The GSUSA responded by saying, “we have so much research and data that suggests that girls really thrive in an environment where they can experiment, take risk and stretch themselves in the company of other girls.” The problem with this argument is that Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will be starting Cub packs that can be all-girl, all-boy or coed depending upon child preference, so a one gender environment will still be available. The real importance of this decision is girls will finally be able to experience and achieve everything boys have had access to for the last 107 years.

Many GSUSA members and parents believe girls will want to join the Boy Scouts to be cool and adventurous. This growing ‘trend’ of girls liking traditionally male activities is apparently, “too bad, because girl stuff is every bit as good as boy stuff. It’s important for girls to remember that.” Is this not basis of the whole problem? There is no ‘girl stuff’ or ‘boy stuff,’ there is only stuff. Just because we live in a society obsessed with categorizing and defining people based on gender, sexuality and race does not mean we, as individuals, must adhere to these ‘guidelines’ of who we should be and what we should like. The only reason GSUSA feels threatened by the decision of BSA to welcome girls is because they know they do not offer the same experience.

It is not just the GSUSA that is bitter about this decision, as many BSA members are upset. Former members are saying the decision to allow girls to join has “gut its prestige” and ruined the honor and tradition of the group. It is sexist to insinuate allowing girls to participate separately in the same programs would lower the integrity of the group. Apparently, seeing young girls have the same achievements as boys is a blow to many current and former members masculinity and superiority. There are many problems with the Boy Scouts, such as sexual assault, financial mismanagement and discrimination, that would make the group less honorable, but allowing girls into their ranks is not one of them.

The activities and programs offered by both GSUSA and BSA are extremely old fashioned and sexist. Girl Scouts traditionally have more domestic activities such as crafting and cooking. Boy Scouts traditionally gain more outdoor and practical skills. The groups place children back in this old fashioned environment with primitive social values, at least that is what I understand from my own experience. It is about time children are allowed more of a choice in their interests and hobbies.

Regardless of the BSA’s motive for this decision, I am excited for this new opportunity for young women. I think it would be amazing if Girl Scouts would admit the difference between the groups and open up their minds to establishing a similar program for boys. Did we not learn anything from Parks and Rec’s Pawnee Goddesses? I am sure there are many boys who would love what Girl Scouts has to offer. It is so important for children to get the opportunity to explore all of their interests and not be told what they can do based on their gender. As for the parents reacting strongly and negatively to this historical decision, your daughters are not immediately joining Boy Scouts just because the BSA are allowing them to. This decision does not have to affect you or your children if they do not want it to. The great part of this is your children now have a choice of what program to join, so why not let them choose?


Samantha Pierce is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at samantha.pierce@uconn.edu.