On October 11th, also known as International Day of the Girl, The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced that they would be altering their membership requirements to allow girls.
The announcement marks yet another attempt by the BSA to increase membership, which has been dwindling for quite some time. The past few years have seen tremendous policy shifts as the organization lifted the ban on gay scouts and leaders and, as of this year, they are now giving members the option to self-identify as male or not.
While inviting female scouts to join the ranks may seem progressive, many people, including NYMM founder Sarah Rizkalla, feel that the change is a misappropriation of equality.
“Equality doesn’t mean we have to let boys and men in everything we do or vice versa,” Rizkalla said.
In an opinion article published by the New York Times, writer Kate Tuttle expresses that “[t]he Boy Scouts’ decision to open its ranks to girls appears to be less an evolution toward openness and inclusion and more of a calculated business strategy.”
The BSA has been in desperate need of some good press after being at the center of several major controversies over the years, including a damning exposė published by the LA Times in 2015 that revealed decades of sexual abuse scandals and their subsequent cover-ups.
With feminism on the rise in mainstream society, promoting equality, even if it’s a business decision as Tuttle suggests, is the logical next move for an organization looking to improve its public image.
“The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement. “We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”
What Surbaugh fails to recognize in his statement is that there is already an organization in place for young girls to develop character and leadership: the Girl Scouts.
The two organizations have veered off into very different directions since their establishments in 1910 and 1912 respectively. While the Boy Scouts are largely affiliated with churches and conservative denominations and even have rules in place that do not allow atheist or agnostic members, the Girl Scouts do not have any sort of strong religious affiliation or requirement.
The Girl Scouts are primarily focused on social justice, and promote a sense of diversity and inclusion in their teachings. A number of influential woman icons such as Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton, Venus Williams, and even Queen Elizabeth II were involved in the Girl Scouts during their childhoods and have accredited the organization for inspiring them to lead impactful lives.
Taking all of these points into consideration, NYMM would like to ask the Boy Scouts one important question: what is the point?
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