Sunday, October 15, 2017

Girl? Boy? Scouts

I very rarely write anything about current events. However, this one has got me full of things to say.  It recently came out that the Boy Scouts of America would be accepting girls into their program in 2018. I want to preface this piece by saying I support the Boy Scouts as an incredible organization for the development of boys and young men. I respect the role they play in the lives of young people and effect if has on the lives of young men. I'm just not happy with this choice, and here's why.

Initial reactions: 
  • This is an organization that banned openly gay leaders and scouts from serving until 2015.
  • An organization that prohibited atheist or agnostic individuals from serving until 2014. 
  • We have an organization for girls. It's called Girl Scouts. 
  • By 2019, the organization will allow girls to achieve the highest rank in Boy Scouts, the Eagle Scout Award. Again, Girl Scouts has a parallel distinction called the Gold Award. 
The organization that, until recently, had many reasons to exclude people, makes a 180 degree turn and decides to include everyone. 

A history lesson:
In 1908 England, Sir Robert Baden-Powell started an organization for boys aged 11-18. In 1911, Juliette Gordon Lowe, a wealthy widow from Savannah, Georgia met Baden-Powell and learned about this organization. Knowing it didn't admit girls and that there was no organization of its kind admitting girls in the USA, she quickly got home and decided to start her own organization founded, led, and participated in by girls and women. A cornerstone of Girl Scouts, from now since it's inception is that it is 100% girl led. 

Girls vs. Boys:
I believe, that for most youth, adolescents is a time of awkwardness, embarrassment, and shame. One of the greatest things about these two organizations is that it allows youth to develop during these stages in the comfort of their own gender. I know that when I was a young girl, who was poor at sports, I wouldn't feel comfortable throwing a ball in front of a boy. I wouldn't have been able to do my best, because I would have been too preoccupied with not making a fool of myself. Meanwhile, boys at this age like to show off. For some, it's when they start testing the waters of their masculine nature. Scouting should not be the place for young boys and girls to get in the way of each others' growth. 

Personally, this just feels like a slap in the face to women. It feels like a huge discredit to Girl Scouts founder, Juliette Gordon Lowe. We work hard to have something of our own and men need to come in and take it. 

Scouting in general has seen a decline over the years. Having worked for Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan in Jackson, I know first hand how hard we have to work to find leadership, get girls, and keep them in the program. Scouting can be a big commitment, but the rewards are worth it. And with all the extra curricular activities available to youth these days, scouting has suffered. 

Again, I do love what Boy Scouts does for boys. I respect their organization and the people in it. Through years of working with Girl Scouts I have come to know they are the premiere organization for girl and female empowerment. Here girls can grow and develop in a safe space where they can learn who they are and what they are good at. Women couldn't vote for way too long, we couldn't attend universities, couldn't work in many business positions, and couldn't serve in certain areas of the military. Also we couldn't seem to get into the Oval Office. Men in charge, just let us have this one. Stay in your lane.

I believe this decision comes less from a place of wanting to be inclusive, but rather from a business one. Boy Scouts enrollment is down, they have been clouded in different controversies over the years, and they decided to make the most politically correct move. News came out on International Day of the Girl. It may have been picked to show celebration and  welcome on a day that was ours. But I see it as a day of theft on a day that was ours. Don't steal our girls for financial or political gain. Don't try and wipe out the progress that we've made for ourselves. And most of all, don't take our cookies.