In their historic and controversial decision last fall, Boy Scouts of America announced that they would be slowly allowing the integration of females into their ranks, first through the Cub Scouts this summer and then allowing girls to get on a path towards becoming Eagle Scouts in 2019.
The decision, as expected, has generated a lot of discussion about the true intent behind it. Was it a marketing ploy? An attempt to bolster declining membership numbers while appearing to be progressive? Was it a dig at the Girl Scouts, who have become outspoken critics of the development?
The answer isn’t exactly clear yet, but it is hard for this publication to fathom how an organization becoming more inclusive can necessarily be a negative thing overall.
The Associated Press reported in mid-April that about 3,000 girls nationwide have already joined in pre-summer activities held throughout the country as sort of a “soft opening” to fully allowing girls into Cub Scouts this summer. That article reported that Scout leaders and troops have been enthusiastic and welcoming to the girls, and the girls have enjoyed the activities presented, such as woodworking, as well as the opportunity to participate in activities alongside their brothers and fathers.
Allowing families to stay together and participate in the same activities can be greatly beneficial, especially in a time where dual-income households and single-parent households have never been more prevalent. Having a similarly aged brother and sister be able to participate in the same troop will ease some burden on scheduling and make taking children from place to place less of a juggling act for already hard-working parents.
The programming of Boy Scouts versus Girl Scouts is another point of debate. For sure, some girls will be more comfortable among their own gender and some girls will find more enjoyment in activities offered by the Boy Scouts. However it must be stressed that the element of choice here has not been reduced, merely expanded. If parents feel their daughter will benefit more from being in the Girl Scouts, they can still choose that route.
As for whether or not the decision to include girls is merely a marketing tactic made with the intention to draw more kids to bolster membership numbers, we advocate that this is simply not of major consequence.
The Boy Scouts – which, to another point of criticism levied by the Girl Scouts, are officially dropping the “Boy” from their title to further accommodate their new direction – have clearly made a philosophical change and are running with it. As with any other organization on Earth, they require membership and charge fees for their organization to remain viable. If they can make a progressive change to expand inclusion and increase profit at the same time, that is the epitome of a win-win for them.
This change towards inclusivity isn’t exactly a new thing for the Boy Scouts either. In past years they have retracted their anti-homosexual stances on members and scout masters and allowed transgender members as well. Regardless of whether or not you believe their heart is truly in the right place or not, actions always speak louder than words – and the Boy Scouts are making progressive actions towards a more modern, inclusive organization.
It should be pointed out there is a certain level of hypocrisy that the organization most critical of the Boy Scouts decision to allow girls is also the organization that has the most to lose, especially financially, by them allowing to do so. The Girl Scouts maintain that the Boy Scouts cannot provide valuable programming for young girls and women like they can, but such an assertion cannot truly be tested without at least opening the doors to girls who, again, have the option to choose either organization and make that decision for themselves.
The fact of the matter is that the Boy Scouts of America have persisted for a long time despite scandals and certain practices that, until recently, have clashed with a society that is slowly becoming more inclusive towards people that are different than what we once deemed “normal.” Their programming obviously has had a large impact on many individuals, especially those who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.
There is simply no legitimate reason to decry an organization for becoming more open, expanding their opportunities to more children and, even if only superficially, becoming more modern and current with the changing tide of society. Everyone can retain their right to disagree and their right to choose what is best for their child – so what exactly is the problem?