Girls in Boy Scouts: Months Later

As a scout, children learn valuable skills that will help them succeed wherever they go in life. Most are more satisfied with their lives because of the ideals that have been instilled in them through scouting. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) report that 80 percent of scouts say scouting has taught them to have confidence in themselves, and 51 percent rate their self-confidence as “excellent”.​

In May of 2018, BSA announced that they would allow girls to be integrated into their programs. Its official name change to Scouts BSA took place on February 1, 2019, marking the date when all girls were officially allowed to join. There will be separate troops within– troops for boys and troops for girls, unlike previously thought. However, they will be collaborating on many events put on by BSA. Cub Scouts, its sibling program switched to co-ed troops last year (More information on Cub Scouts going co-ed here).

 

According to the BSA website, girls who join Scouts BSA will "learn from the same program, earn the same merit badges and achieve the same advancements that boys have earned for nearly 109 years in the Boy Scout program”. Meaning girls will now be able to achieve the highest honor of Eagle Scout as well. This award could very well assist with college admissions, allow scouts to enter at a higher rank in the military and earn scholarships. This is something that the Girl Scouts of America’s equivalent, the Gold Award, cannot always guarantee.

The program has received mixed messages about changing their inclusivity policies. Girl Scouts National Board President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan called the Boy Scouts' plan “unsettling” and said it would “only serve to undercut the Girl Scouts.” She also added that the co-ed model scouts are trying to build goes against "research supporting single gender programming." Some girls have spoken out as to why they have decided to join the Boy Scouts. Alexandra, age 9, wanted to follow in her dad’s footsteps, also noting that “it’s fun, and you can do more stuff.”

Parents are now left to decide which program will be the best fit for their daughters. While BSA is perhaps stepping on the toes of the Girl Scouts by making their program gender neutral, there are proven benefits to learning in single-gender environments. They help lessen the gender stereotypes centered around sports and other activities as well as assist in building confidence in children. Girl Scouts has always made empowering girls and women their primary goal by teaching girls entrepreneurship (the girl scout cookie program is the largest girl-led business in the world), leadership, as well as making sure their areas of study are well rounded (the STEAM program). The Girl Scouts of America have affirmed that they do not plan on changing their rules any time soon.

Looking past all the misconceptions about each organization, their programs are similar but different in structure. It is important to look at each of the programs as equals and keep in mind the pros and cons of learning in mixed gender environments. Find more information on the benefits of single-gender learning here.