Gender integration has breached the walls of yet another institution of American life — only this time, the combatants have switched sides. The Boy Scouts of America announced today that they will fully integrate girls into Cub Scout dens, and build a parallel program for older girls:
The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that girls will soon be allowed to become Cub Scouts and to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest honor.
“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children,” said Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts. …
Starting next year, young girls can join Cub Scout units, known as dens. Local scouting organizations can choose to have dens for girls and dens for boys. “Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls,” the organization said in a statement.
A separate program for older girls will be available in 2019, BSA said, enabling them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
One might expect feminists and progressives to rejoice in this seeming capitulation. The latter have targeted BSA for decades on such issues as the religious requirements and accessibility for both Scouts and adult leaders based on sexual orientation. The Left has largely won those fights, and at first blush, this appears to be yet another concession to social-justice activists.
However, what it actually does is to steal potential recruits from the other major gender-segregated scouting organization. In August, the Girl Scouts accused the BSA of attempting to hijack their members by testing the appeal of full integration. At the time, GSUSA’s spokesperson delivered an impassioned appeal for the superiority of “single gender programming”:
“Through various means we have learned that BSA is very seriously considering opening their programs to girls and we have made repeated efforts to engage with them and talk about the implications,” the spokesperson told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.
“It’s a potentially dangerous and bad idea,” the spokesperson said, citing research supporting “single gender programming” which says that girls learn best in an all-girls environment when it comes to scouting.
Their letter to the BSA had a better argument, though; why not concentrate on recruiting among the 90% of boys not participating in scouting?
Rather than seeking to fundamentally transform BSA into a co-ed program, we believe strongly that Boy Scouts should instead take steps to ensure that they are expanding the scope of their programming to all boys, including those who BSA has historically underserved and underrepresented, such as African-American and Latino boys. We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls. We say this as an organization that has focused our recruitment efforts on those girls who have historically not been involved with GSUSA, because we know they will benefit the most.
There is no question that throughout the Boy Scouts’ history, it has provided exemplary opportunities for boys across the country. It is puzzling, therefore, why BSA isn’t returning to its core strength, but rather looking to supplant members of an organization it has partnered with for more than a century.
The answer to that may be that modern families with children of both genders don’t want to have to support two programs. That may have been easier in previous generations when only one parent worked outside the home. In today’s culture, with its large number of one-parent or two-income households, there aren’t enough free hours for one family to participate in both. That may also explain why scouting has such poor penetration these days, although that can be also chalked up to a proliferation of athletic and social institutions for children outside of either the BSA or GSUSA.
This does provide families with another form of choice, too. The Girl Scouts have gone all in for the progressive agenda, with its support of pro-choice policies especially, while the Boy Scouts have largely remained a conservative-friendly organization. At least two Catholic dioceses have cut ties with GSUSA over their promotion of abortion and affiliated instead with American Heritage Girls. As I wrote at the time:
There is a free market for social clubs for girls and teens. Girl Scouts has decided to cater to the progressives and pro-abortionists; American Heritage Girls has decided to cater to everyone else. There seems to be no problem here, other than Girl Scouts losing some market share in both clubs and cookie sales. That’s not the Catholic Church’s problem to solve.
So now the Boy Scouts have decided to enter that market, too. If “single gender programming” for girls is truly superior — and it may well be — then neither GSUSA or American Heritage Girls will need to worry in the long run.
Whether or not the decision is wise, some current Boy Scouts parents have reason to be unhappy with its implementation, writes Jane the Actuary:
In the discussion at the roundtable after viewing the video, when asked the question, “who to partner with?” the natural response of some in the group was the Girl Scouts, but the problem is, of course, that girls who are interested in a Boy Scout-equivalent organization are by definition not interested in Girl Scouts, and it is not really a solution to the question of “what do you offer girls who go through the Cub Scout program?” to say, “go to Girl Scouts,” especially if they are midway through 5th grade and have not, to that point, been connected to the Girl Scouts. To me, it seems that a better answer is to say, “each district (a grouping of troops, a subunit of a council) will offer at least one girl Scouting troop” — call it Scouting for Girls, or some such thing — though the difficulty is then that you lose the idea of troops being sponsored by a chartering organization which provides continuity and a recruiting structure; instead, I suppose the district would be responsible for recruiting adult leaders, advertising the troop, and so on, which would take away resources from other programs. Maybe there would be one or two chartering organizations within the district who have the size and could easily add on a freestanding troop for girls. In any case, this would have to be done in such a way as to clearly communicate: “this is an alternative for those families for whom Girl Scouts is not a good fit.”
And, really, if Girl Scouts had the same structure of a chartering organization and an all-grade structure (or K-5, anyway), then the rationale of “family time” wouldn’t really be an issue. All it would take to meet this expressed need is for a given chartering organization to say to its Scout families: “everyone start meeting at the same time and start doing activities together.” Sure, there would still be issues around the envisioned joint gathering time — do Brownies even have a flag ceremony? Certainly they don’t have a Scout Oath and Law, but a Scout Promise instead, and they are not the same.
In other words, if you’re looking at enrolling your children in the BSA … be prepared.