NPR has decided that the Sydney Ireland story needs revisiting/re-promoting, so they’ve written another article on her cause to get the Boy Scouts to go co-ed. There’s not much new in the NPR article — she wants to be a Boy Scout and get the Eagle award like her brother — so my first inclination is to just point readers to what I wrote about this back in the fall: very briefly, despite what the above image implies, Boy Scouts (as opposed to Cub Scouts) is primarily a middle-school activity (at least, around here, the high school boys tend to fade away except for the Eagle project), and it is at this grade level when boys, who mature later than girls, benefit particularly from single-sex outings and activities.
I’ll also mention that I was told, though I wasn’t able to verify this, that the single-sex nature is due in part to an agreement with the Girl Scouts; the GSA doesn’t want the BSA to go co-ed due to concerns that girls would flock to Boy Scouts and abandon Girl Scouts. (Note that in the UK, for instance, the Scouts is co-ed and at the same time, there’s a Girl Guides program alongside it. Don’t know how that plays out in practice – whether, for instance, the Girl Guides draws the “girly” girls or if it’s a matter of how the families in any given school decide to structure their scouting organizations.)
But I thought it might be useful to take a look at the comments, in particular, on the Facebook page, since NPR doesn’t have comments on its website any longer. (I seem to be a a dunce and unable to figure out how to link to this item specifically, rather than the main page – apologies.)
Yes, the typical response was “it’s so outdated to segregate the kids,” which seems largely to come from people who are not involved in Scouting, who would recognize that it’s more complex than that. So I’m not going to spend much time on that category of comment. Another category of comment that I’m not highlighting are the uninformed ones that say, paraphrased, “Boy Scouts are bad because they require everyone to be Christian, so they should just be abandoned entirely anyway.”
With 2,300 likes:
I’m a Girl Scout troop leader, and it is SO frustrating, because the Girl Scouts can’t to nearly any of the awesome things the Boy Scouts can. I would love for there to just be “Scouts”.
Why not? There’s nothing that prevents Girl Scouts from going on monthly campouts except the willingness of parents/leaders to do this, is there?
That individual replied, to that very question:
Now, when my husband and another leader went on a weeklong canoeing trip, he had to have special training, but it was online training and there was no cost, and no special insurance required. But this isn’t something that’s being “denied” the Girl Scout troops, but is a matter of priorities for the Girl Scout headquarters.
The top two reasons are 1)Money and 2)Insurance. The Boy Scouts and The Girl Scouts are not affiliated organizations, so their insurance carriers are different, as are their rules and bylaws. For instance, in my area, if I wanted to take my girls canoeing I would have to get my “water safety and instruction” permit. It costs *me* (not the organization) $1200.00 to do so. Only one person is certified by Girl Scouts to teach that course , and it’s only offered a few times a year. Our Troop would then have to purchase additional insurance to take a canoeing trip, out of out Troop funds, of which we don’t have much
With mostly women holding teaching positions throughout elementary and middle school I think boys need more adult male role models. (Boy Scouts may not fulfill all of this but it’s a start) Maybe that’s a reason why the average male struggles in school beyond middle school.
A similar comment:
Ladies, there are some things that a young man needs to see and learn from another man isolated from the feminine. There is ample evidence of the need for good male role models in the development of a young man and often this is best suited in an environment like scouting. Does absolutely everything have to be coed or can we maintain a few activities where young men can be mentored by older men?
On the Girl Scouts:
The boy scouts is a far superior program. I don’t blame some girls for wanting to join. I think one solution would be to allow all girl troops to follow their curriculum. Girl Scouts have ruined their program. It was all about ecology now. They teach few fun or valuable life skill unless your troop goes on their own.
I’m a girl scout leader as well. I completely disagree. My girls can do anything boys can do and will. It’s all what the leaders plan. I believe girls and boys shouldn’t be pigeonholed into gender specific roles created by society (don’t even get me started with my feminism). However, I want a place for my girls to go to just be with girls. Where they don’t have to worry about boys. Where they can discuss changes on their bodies and challenges of being a girl. I love that our troop is girls supporting girls. No boys allowed. Why can’t we celebrate differences in gender?
A mom of boys:
I am torn about this, because I know some girls think Girl Scouts is a little lame, and I know they could handle and do anything a Boy Scout does. That being said, I have two boys in Boy Scouts, and I am quite happy that the genders are separate in this ONE thing in my sons’ teenage life. Maybe moving Girl Scouts in a direction that appeals to ALL girls and incorporating what may be lacking would be beneficial.
So nothing really new here. I don’t have the impression that this is up for serious consideration by the “head office”, though, to be sure, they opened up Boy Scouts to transgender boys/boy-identifying girls without any consultation, so it’s always possible that they’ll spring this on the membership, especially if it appears that they’re at risk of lawsuits.
Image: By David Fine (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons