Has the BSA gone too far?


Carrie Ryan

On October 11, the BSA announced that starting on January 1st it will begin allowing girls into Cub Scout Packs and Boy Scout Troops. This decision has been highly controversial, as it can be seen as a way to slow the decline in BSA enrollment. Photo by Carrie Ryan

Adam McQuilkin, Staff Writer

On October 11, the Boy Scouts of America overturned a century-old policy with the announcement that the Boy Scouting program will begin accepting girls into its formerly all-male troops and packs. This announcement comes 105 years after the founding of the BSA, and has been widely interpreted as a progressive move by a traditionally conservative organization, according to an article written by Holly Yan and AJ Willingham of CNN. Under the current plan, the BSA will allow girls to join its troops starting in 2018, but it will require girls to either form all-girl patrols within existing troops or separate all-girl troops.

Cordelia Scales ’19 , a Girl Scout in Troop 20261 of Brookline, NH, is strongly in favor of the BSA’s decision. As Scales said, “I think that Girl Scouts should be trying to orient things so that they’re more outdoorsy, but I get why girls are trying to join Boy Scouts… they can’t do that through Girl Scouts right now.” Scales also expressed her support for the BSA’s advancement program. In the BSA, boys are allowed to advance at their own pace, in contrast to the Girl Scout advancement system where girls advance at regular intervals. As Scales said, “I feel like you should have to earn your rank.”

While generally popular, this decision has been decried by leaders inside the Girl Scouts of America as a way to bolster the BSA’s falling numbers, instead of the logical next step after allowing openly gay and transgender boys into the organization earlier this year. According to a graphic by PBS, enrollment in the Boy Scout program dropped from 2.8 million in 2012 to 2.3 million in 2016, a drop of nearly 18%, which girl scout executives allege is the reason why the BSA made the announcement.

This sentiment is shared by Laurie Miller, a leader in Hollis Girl Scout Troop 10568. “I wish they would put qualifiers” stated Miller, “I think if the Boy Scouts had come up with the instructions with qualifiers like if there’s not an active girl scout organization in the area… sort of like sports at the school.” Miller believes that the BSA’s decision will take away from the local girl scout organizations, since “We have an active Girl Scout community, and now I feel like parents are going to be pressed to make a choice” between the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts. She also expressed concern that since the BSA has a much larger presence in Hollis and Brookline, parents would lean towards the larger organization (the BSA), hurting the Girl Scouts in the long run. As Miller stated, “I would say that if they were allowing girls to join with the boys that would be progressive, but they’re saying you can be a Boy Scout but you have to have your own patrol. What’s the point of that?”