Thursday, May 3, 2018

What I think of "Scouts BSA...”

I'm waiting for Bill to come back from dropping off the dogs at the doggy pension, so I have a few minutes to write one more post before we get on the road.  Yesterday, I became aware of the Boy Scouts' decision to open up the ranks to girls.  On the surface, this may sound like a great idea.  After all, a lot of girls like to do the things Boy Scouts do.  Also, the Boy Scouts offer the Eagle Scout award, which is very impressive on a resume.  Allowing girls to participate also eliminates that pesky new problem of accommodating transgendered kids, too.

Although some people think I'm a liberal feminist (which I don't really think I am, but whatever), allow me to go on record to say that I'm not too keen on the idea of dropping the word "Boy" from Boy Scouts.  And it's not because I don't think girls should have the opportunity to do what boys are doing or they should be denied the chance to earn prestigious awards, like Eagle Scout.  Personally, I think some people do better in gender segregated activities.  I think there is a place for groups that are just for boys or just for girls.  I may be old fashioned in my thinking, but I am also the product of parents who both went to gender segregated colleges.  Both excelled.

I also watched as my parents' colleges eventually went co-ed.  My dad is a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, which was all male until about twenty years ago.  At the time it went co-ed, I was a little sad, for the same reasons I think it's sad that Boy Scouts is going co-ed.  Some boys thrive in all male groups.  I later changed my mind about VMI, though, because it's a state supported school.  My dad complained that there wouldn't be any state supported schools for men.  I laughed and said, "Uh... there aren't any at all for women, although when I was college aged, Virginia still had several private all women schools.  A few of those schools went co-ed and one almost closed.  I have a friend whose alma mater was a private school.  It is no longer operating at all and she graduated the same year I did, in 1994.

My mom's school was Southern Seminary, in Buena Vista, Virginia.  When I was growing up, it was only for women and it had a fantastic riding program.  In fact, I almost went there because of that program.  But then the school's finances began to falter and, like the Boy Scouts, the powers that be decided to allow men to study there.  The arrival of men wasn't enough to save the school, and it was eventually purchased by LDS businesspeople who turned it into Southern Virginia University.  My mom's hometown is now very Mormon, which kind of distresses me, because the influx of members that practice Mormonism is changing the culture of Buena Vista and the surrounding areas.

I think this decision to make the Boy Scouts welcoming to girls is a lot less about being inclusive than it is about simply keeping the organization going.  It's no secret that today's young people have a lot of activities to choose from and ever limited free time to enjoy them.  The Boy Scouts were competing for members with a lot of other good organizations.  By opening up their ranks, they might reduce the number of girls who might, say, participate in Girl Scouts (which also offers a prestigious award) or 4H, which is a co-ed activity for youngsters interested in agricultural pursuits.

I read an interesting article from a woman involved with Girl Scouts.  She wrote that the Girl Scouts organization would suffer because of this decision and that the Boy Scouts had betrayed the Girl Scouts by badmouthing the organization in its effort to "poach" female members.  I think a lot of the people who are claiming that liberal feminists are behind this change should read the article I linked in this paragraph.  It's very illuminating.


This was not from my troop, but I did wear this uniform in the late 70s.  It was itchy and I thought it was ugly.

I was a 4Her myself, and was also a Brownie.  I didn't like Brownies, so I quit the whole Scouts program.  I don't have brothers, so I was never jealous of any "cool" activities the Boy Scouts were doing.  Actually, I'm not really a fan of Boy Scouts for a lot of reasons, although I recognize that many people love the program and have benefitted from it.  My reasons for not liking Boy Scouts have to do with the religious emphasis and the fact that until very recently, the organization did not allow homosexuals.  If I had had a son, I probably would not have wanted him to be a Boy Scout, although I can't say I would veto the idea.

In any case... it seems to me that maybe a better solution is to allow single gender troops for those who want them.  And while it's been a very long time since I last looked at what the Girl Scouts offer, maybe there should be some more emphasis on activities that would attract girls to the Boy Scouts.  But I know that my ideas have probably been considered already.  The truth is, it takes dedicated adult volunteers to keep those programs going, as well as money and active participation.

I know that a lot of countries already offer co-ed scouting.  I don't think there's anything wrong with that.  I just hate to see classic institutions changing, especially when I think it has more to do with money than actual evolution.  I also don't think the Boy Scouts went about this change in a very diplomatic manner, particularly regarding the Girl Scouts.  It doesn't look like they worked together to offer the best of both programs.  I don't have any kids, though, so I have no dog in this fight.  It'll be interesting to see what happens.  It may turn out to be a total non-issue.


2 comments:

  1. I agree. I, too, think it's unfortunate that few single-sex outlets are present anymore.

    My mom was in 4-H for much of her childhood, too. My dad was an Eagle Scout, which is common among Mormons, though he didn't become LDS until he was nearly thirteen. His sisters were Campfire Girls.

    I asked my mom why she never signed me up for any of that stuff. she said at the age I typically would have started, I was doing gymnastics at least five days per week, and there wouldn't have been time.

    Matthew wasn't a Cub Scout or Boy Scout, either, probably because he was busy with sports.

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