By David Giacomini
Last week, the Boy Scouts of America made a truly momentous decision. In a unanimous vote by their Board of Directors, the Boy Scouts announced that they will soon be allowing girls to join the organization. Young girls will be able to join Cub Scouts and achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scouts. The announcement has drawn mixed reviews, with people both praising and criticizing the decision. The BSA has offered some interesting reasons for this change in policy. They claimed that since families today are busier than ever it would be beneficial to offer a program serving the whole family. Also, the qualities expressed by the Boy Scouts, such as leadership development, should be open to both boys and girls.
The Boy Scouts have made some great decisions in recent years. In 2013, the group allowed openly gay boys to participate and extended the rule for openly gay adult leaders in 2015. While both of these decisions raised a great deal of opposition, I completely agreed that they were steps that the Boy Scouts should be taking to make the program open to more people. With this most recent decision, however, I have mixed feelings. I am an Eagle Scout myself and have been involved in the Boy Scouts for over a decade, which is pretty weird for a 21 year old person to say. The BSA has given me some wonderful opportunities, and I can firmly say that I am the person I am today in great deal because of scouting. I would love to see the program opened up to more people, but I don’t know if allowing girls in is the way to do this. There are still 90 percent of young boys in the United States who are not involved in the Boy Scouts. Many of these boys are from minority groups, such as Latinos and African Americans, who have been disadvantaged in the scouting program for years.
One of the other reasons I disagree with the Boy Scout’s decision is because of the position that this put the Girl Scouts into. Just this past August, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, the national president of the Girl Scouts, actually wrote a letter to the Boy Scouts accusing them of trying to discourage people from being involved in the Girl Scouts and of encouraging adults to get involved with the Boy Scouts as opposed to the GSA. There also already exists an organization within the Boy Scouts that is coed: Venture Scouting. Venturing has been around since 1998 and is open to both boys and girls from ages 14 to 21. It focuses more on the high-adventure aspects of the Boy Scout program, such as camping, backpacking, climbing and boating. While this does allow older girls to get involved in the Boy Scouts, this new decision will let girls join at a much younger age.
The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have had a good relationship for decades now, and I would be more in favor of the organizations working together to improve both of their programs. The new Boy Scout programs will not be rolled out until later in 2018 and 2019, and there will probably be much debate on the topic until then. It will be interesting to see how the Boy Scouts begin this new chapter in its history.
David is a senior History major and Photography minor.