Boy Scouts Will Allow Girls: One Girl Scout’s Perspective

In clear contrast with the Girl Scouts’ swift and aggressive comments denouncing the Boy Scouts’ decision, Margosian said she isn’t worried that girls will choose Boy Scouts over Girl Scouts. “There will be some girls who make that choice, but the reality is we, for 105 years, have really focused on serving girls and their emotional, psychological, and developmental needs,” she said. “We’ll be sorry for those girls because they will miss out on the best experience, and that’s just a shame.”

The experts I spoke with were doubtful that the Girl Scouts’ current membership would be significantly affected—but they acknowledged that they might lose some potential scouts. “I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of impact as far as a whole bunch of Girl Scouts deciding to join the Boy Scouts,” said Elizabeth Searing, an assistant professor of public administration and policy at SUNY Albany and Director of the Institute of Nonprofit Leadership and Community Development. “The experience of the two organizations are very different.”

Both groups, Searing says, are embodiments of existing cultural norms—their mottos, their structures, and even their messaging. The Girl Scout program is designed to build girls’ confidence and promote girls’ participation in STEM fields, where there are historically fewer women than men. It’s also designed with the idea that single-sex environments work best for developing girls’ leadership skills.

“It’s kind of an attempt at a hostile takeover.”>

“Who this is going to capture are the girls who are not into what Girl Scouts does,” Searing said, noting that she used to be a Girl Scout troop leader but that she and her daughter both left the organization to focus more on camping. She says the development might be good for girls like her daughter who simply weren’t interested in the Girl Scout model.

The Boy Scouts say their Cub Scouts’ program offers a more gender-neutral approach, and they don’t plan on tailoring it for girls. From a societal perspective, their decision means more options for girls to pursue their interests. As my colleague James Hamblin wrote on Monday, accepting girls into the Cub Scouts might put the Boy Scouts in a better position to address gender fluidity and will give boys more opportunities to interact with girls.

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