Who wants your old boys’ club, anyway?

I’m sad, y’all.

I was going to write about International Day of the Girl, and the awesome girls in my Activity Days group, and the palpable excitement last month when I asked them, “What don’t you like about Activity Days? What are some things you wish we could do?”

Instead, I have to address yesterday’s announcement that the Boy Scouts of America will soon allow girls to be in its scouting program, Eagle Scout award and all.

If you’re celebrating this, please take a step back and look at what it really means: some dudes whose club is shrinking decided to bring girls in to boost their numbers, and they didn’t bother consulting with their parallel organization that’s already serving girls.

That’s right: Boy Scout leadership made this huge announcement without any input from the people who are most interested in getting girls involved in scouting: the leaders of Girl Scouts of the USA.

It’s mansplaining at its worst: “Hey, we have a program that we really like for boys. Never mind that there’s a very similar program for girls–we’re just going to say that our program is for girls too! You’ll like that, right?”

To make matters worse, they did it in the most tone-deaf way possible, announcing the change on the International Day of the Girl–a day that the Girl Scouts celebrate.

That’s not inclusive; that’s patriarchal. Thanks but no thanks, guys.


On prolonged sabbatical from her career in arts administration, Libby is a seamstress, editor, entrepreneur, and community volunteer. She has a husband and three children.

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15 Responses

  1. Lanabean says:

    It’s worth noting that girls have been welcome in Venture Scouting (age 14-18) for decades… it’s just that at church, the YW were excluded anyway. The BSA has now expanded to allow girls into the whole program instead of just the most fun part (which, again, the YW were forbidden from because those aprons aren’t going to sew themselves).

  2. spunky says:

    I’m not familiar with US Boy scouts and Girl Scouts (did them as a kid, but not been in touch with that for 20+ years). But I am familiar with Scouts Australia and Girl Guides Australia. In the case of Australia, Scouts and Guides are two separate organizations that share a common foundation, but operate independently (think BYU-I and BYU-Provo- same foundation, and though many similar policies, there are different presidents/policies, admission requirements and so on). Guides did not amalgamate with Scouts with Scouts allowed the membership of girls (not in separate dens) because to do so would give up their autonomy and their program, which is vastly different to the scout program, in valuable ways.

    I think each club can provide different things for those with different interests. For Mormons who are queasy about the Girl Scout history of pro-birth-control education and so on, maybe Scouts– who don’t deal directly with sex education– are a better fit. I dunno.

    But I confess that I like that there is a choice for girls to choose scouts or grisl scouts/guides (where boys cannot be members). And perhaps this is also in part because as a Mormon, and the church’s long history with Scouts, I am simply more familiar with scouts, so like the freedom in allowing girls in. (After all, my mother was a den leader as a calling, but never volunteered with my girl scouts group– so I knew boy scouts through her because I helped her– better than I knew the girl scouts where I went and did everything on my own).

    A friend posted in my facebook feed that he thought that this change would now make only Saudi Arabia as the only scouting country that did not allow females in the program. I don’t know if this is true, but that alone was an interesting thought.

  3. Patricia I Johnson says:


  4. James says:

    You have got to be kidding. After being repeatedly sued and pressured and discriminated against for their policies, the BSA finally knuckles under and caves to the demands of the social justice warriors, and you say it is “not inclusive; that’s patriarchal”.

    No matter what some people do, all you can do is complain about it. The truth is, hardly any girls want to join the BSA, other people just want them to be able to join. To complain that they didn’t consult the Girl Scouts is the most hilarious comment I have ever read on here.

    • Mraynes says:

      Nope. You may think it’s ridiculous to complain that a partner organization wasn’t consulted on this decision but there is very clear etiquette in the non-profit world that if you’re going to move into a space already occupied by another organization you at least give them a heads up. We can have a debate on whether it was patriarchal but, at the very least, it was incredibly bad manners.

      • James says:

        Considering how incredibly rude the Girl Scouts were to the BSA back in August, the BSA owes them nothing

      • Mraynes says:

        You mean when they accused the BSA of covertly poaching their membership? They weren’t wrong, were they? This is literally the same exact problem they had before except now the BSA is at least being honest about it.

      • james says:

        So what you are saying is that it is OK to be an A-Hole to someone as long as you are right?

      • Libby says:

        So James, are you saying that the Girl Scouts were in the wrong for calling out the Boy Scouts on something they were actually doing? Which party is actually being rude here?

    • Libby says:

      James, the logical thing would be for the BSA board to approach the GSUSA board and say, “Hey, want to work together?”

      Not doing that is the height of rudeness.

    • James-this girl who was fully active in Girl Scouts and YW-read her best friend Eric’s Boy Scout handbook cover to cover and would have loved to join, and have a much more nature/outdoors experience. I have several friends who felt the same way.

  5. Carolyn Nielsen says:

    My feminist roots sprouted in the Girl Scouts. We had an active outdoor oriented program that gave us unlimited opportunities for skill building and leadership. By the time we were in high school we were planning and executing all of our activities on our own. We soared. We were told we could do anything and we did.

    I’ve been an adult leader in both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts. Sorry boys, the girls are way ahead of you.

  6. Amy says:

    I have mixed feelings on this. I think most of us expected the BSA to be fully co-ed sometime in the near future (they’re about 20 years behind the Canadian Scouts and nearly 30 years behind the New Zealand scouts), so I don’t know that I feel like it was dropping a bomb or anything. I don’t know much about the BSA as an organization but Canada has Scouts Canada and Girl Guides. They work together and there’s no animosity about girls being able to join one or the other. As a parent of a boy and a girl, I especially like that I don’t have to run to two separate locations if both of my kids do Scouts, otherwise it’s twice as much volunteer training, twice as much fundraisers, twice as many camping weekends, etc. I acknowledge there are issues with optics and again, I’m not familiar with the BSA as an organization, but I’ll admit that I think it’s great that scouting in all forms just got twice as accessible to girls.

  7. allyall says:

    Was a girl scout, and enjoyed it. Now I have 2 boys in boy scouts. I’m Glad my daughter has a choice because I personally like the boy scouting program better than the girl scouting one. I’m sad that so many people aren’t happy about something that made me so happy to read. It makes me feel very alone.

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