Just how bad has the rat race gotten when we have to do approval ratings on the Boy Scouts? And yet, here we are. NBC News and the Wall Street Journal felt compelled to put such a poll in the field to determine how people feel about the recent BSA decision to begin admitting girls next year. The results might provide a bit of clarity for the organization’s leadership because people aren’t wild about it at all.
Nearly six-in-ten Americans — 57 percent — disagree with the move to allow girls to join the Boy Scouts, with 37 percent voicing strong opposition.
Thirty-six percent overall say they support the decision.
The Boy Scouts of America announced on October 11 that young girls would soon be allowed to join Cub Scout troops and that older girls would be eligible to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, saying in a statement that the decision came after “years of receiving requests from families and girls.” But the policy change has received mixed reviews from some advocates, including Girl Scouts USA, which responded to the announcement by lauding the benefits of “the single-gender environment.”
Almost all of the support for this idea is coming from one group: millennial Democrats. Roughly half of Democrats and the same margin of all respondents in that age group voiced support. But overall, there were no other major demographic divides. A majority of both men and women oppose it.
I previously wrote about the protests coming from the Girl Scouts board of directors. In that article I set forth all of my reasons for opposing this move so I won’t dredge them up again here. Instead, perhaps we could offer a few ways to address the perceived problems leading to this decision.
The chief complaint seems to be that the Girl Scouts don’t offer the same range of activities and opportunities as the Boy Scouts, giving them a leg up in the college application process and eventual career opportunities. I hadn’t been aware of this discrepancy, but it certainly sounds like a valid gripe. With that in mind, what say we concentrate on making the Girl Scouts better rather than letting them jump ship to the Boy Scouts?
Let’s identify what advantages the Boy Scouts offer and replicate them for the girls. The major problem here is that it doesn’t really sound like they’re all that different. Time Magazine assembled a good comparison of the two programs last month and found that the similarities outnumber the differences. The range of badges earned in both programs matches up fairly closely. Both have STEM programs in place to prepare the kids for good careers. The difference between the Eagle Scout rank and the Gold Award (for the girls) seems minimal also. So is this more a question of society placing more value on the Eagle Scout award than the girls’ equivalent? If so, public education on the subject might go a long way.
Allowing the girls to jump ship creates the exact opposite effect. The Girl Scouts aren’t just going to disappear overnight after 105 years of operation and having 1.8 million members. As the survey shows, there are going to be a lot of families who won’t want to enroll their daughters in the Boy Scouts, but some will. That means that you’ll bleed down the membership (and therefore the resources) of the organization which currently is most in need of support. And looking at the demographics in the poll, the families hurt the most by this will be the more conservative ones which place more value on traditional gender roles.
Opening the doors of the BSA to girls isn’t addressing the underlying complaint. What you’re going to be doing is leaving a lot of girls behind and starving the Girl Scouts of resources. The Boy Scouts need to rethink this decision pronto.