Why Do Men Only Notice Inequality When it Affects Boys?
I am about to enter my 6th year as a girl scout leader. My troop is located in Utah County, Utah, in the heart of the church. We are totally self sustaining. We raise our own money, plan our own trips, recruit girls, leaders and volunteers ourselves, and work directly with the community to earn girl scout awards. We are not an exclusively LDS troop, but more of our girls and leaders are members of the church than are not. If you added up the past and current donations in tithing and hours of service to the church between all of us, we would be an impressive force. Our troop has been meeting for years on Thursday evenings at a local ward building, the same night that everyone has stake meetings and the church is often empty other than us. I’m grateful for the church letting us meet there all these years because they certainly didn’t have to. It’s allowed us to grow and expand our age levels and numbers far beyond what we could have done meeting in my living room.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will be kicked out of church buildings at the end of December, when the church switches to their own program and officially disaffiliates with them. They made an official statement in a news release that BSA troops will no longer be permitted to use churches for their meetings. Okay. I guess that makes sense, because BSA has had a long and involved history with the church and they are now splitting ways. The church did NOT say anything about girl scouts, however. And in case you didn’t know, Girl Scouts of America and BSA are totally, completely separate organizations. Banning BSA does not equate banning GSA, although I can obviously understand the confusion.
We asked recently to schedule our current building for the next school year and were told that we, like the boy scouts, couldn’t use it after December either. My co-leader from that stake sent a message directly to her stake president, appealing the decision. She pointed out the obvious, that girl scouts weren’t banned – so why would he suddenly change the rule about us meeting there as well? He called her on the phone and explained his position.
He said, “I know that the church didn’t say anything about the girl scouts, but if I let the girl scouts use the building, the boys might get upset and want to use the building for their programs, too.”
She said back to him, “So, you’re saying you’re personally fine with us using the building, but you won’t because you’re afraid of making the boys feel like it’s not fair?”
He said, “Yes.”
So here’s what I’m hearing – for over 100 years, the church ran a high quality scouting program. It was fully funded, staffed and housed by the church itself, and was available for 100 percent of the boys, and zero percent of the girls. The concern about inequality is crossing his mind now, for the very first time, as it finally effects the boys in the church – and the effect is incredibly minor – a few boys who actually stay in scouts MIGHT be bummed the girls have a meeting location that they don’t have. It’s not like the church is suddenly funding or staffing our troop. We’ve always provided everything for ourselves, while the boys have had a free ride for over a century. But *now* is when he’s worried about inequality between boys and girls scouting programs for the very first time ever?
(PS. For those who are interested, the same co-leader contacted church headquarters and asked the official policy on letting an outside group such as girl scouts use church buildings for their meetings. She was told those decisions take place on a stake level, and it’s up to the discretion of the individual stake president and his physical facilities representative to decide.)