Six months ago, Boy Scouts of America changed their policy in order to welcome girls into their programs — over vociferous objections from Girl Scouts of the USA. They insisted that “girls learn best in an all-girls environment” and accused the Boy Scouts of poaching in order to shore up declining enrollment. If so, it’s going so well that the Boy Scouts have decided to rebrand in order to emphasize that their brand of Scouting is no longer all about boys:
For 108 years, the Boy Scouts of America’s flagship program has been known simply as the Boy Scouts. With girls soon entering the ranks, the group says that iconic name will change.
The organization on Wednesday announced a new name for its Boy Scouts program: Scouts BSA. The change will take effect next February. …
“We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward,” he said. “We’re trying to find the right way to say we’re here for both young men and young women.”
The parent organization will remain the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts – its program for 7- to 10-year-olds – will keep its title, as well.
Also keeping their name: Girl Scouts. The organization claims to have been “blindsided” by the move, and announced an aggressive plan to expand corporate partnerships and compete for enrollees:
Among the initiatives is creation of numerous new badges that girls can earn, focusing on outdoor activities and on science, engineering, technology and math. The organization is expanding corporate partnerships in both those areas, and developing a Girl Scout Network Page on LinkedIn to support career advancement for former Girl Scouts.
“Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls,” said Sylvia Acevedo, the Girl Scouts’ CEO. “We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to provide their girls opportunities to build new skills … and grow into happy, successful, civically engaged adults.”
As I noted last year, it’s fascinating to watch the flipped script between the two organizations. Boy Scouts has been derided as hopelessly conservative and insular, but they’re the ones taking risks to end gender roles and expand inclusiveness. The more progressive Girl Scouts, whose corporate partners include Planned Parenthood, finds themselves demanding gender segregation as part of their ability to compete for recruits.
But how big of a deal is this, really? Catholic News Agency editor-in-chief J.D. Flynn says it’s not at all:
Boys and girls will be in separate units, and come together only sometimes. There will still be room for single-sex formation, which is important. But teaching girls the Scout Law, how to lash together rafts, and how to become leaders is a good thing.https://t.co/rbNPteKQSb
— JD Flynn (@jdflynn) May 2, 2018
Perhaps. I do think that something may be lost in the rush to tear down the distinctiveness of “single-sex formation” in activities like scouting. Does that mean it will be worse? That’s tough to say, but scouting remained one of the few activities left in American public life for pre-teens and teens to have that kind of community experience. Abandoning it makes scouting just like every other kind of social activity, and the Scouts BSA may eventually regret losing that distinctiveness.