Separated

Why aren’t girls allowed to join the Boy Scouts?

From left: Allie Westover, 13, Daphne Mortenson, Taylor Alcozer, Ella Jacobs and Skyler Westover, who are all 10, play in a parking lot before meeting with local Boy Scout leaders in Santa Rosa, Calif., Nov. 13, 2015. In a year in which gender roles in American institutions have undergone major changes and challenges, the five girls are the latest of many who have sought to join the Boy Scouts. (Sarah Rice/The New York Times)

Ten-year-old Ella Jacobs and her friends want to be Boy Scouts. A New York Times profile published this week tells how they’ve ditched the Girl Scouts because they found the experience “too sedate,” started their own version of the group called the Unicorns, took skills-building courses offered to boys and girls, and asked Northern California leaders of the 105-year-old organization for permission to join the Boy Scouts. No dice.

“Because we’re girls we can’t participate with boys? When we get into the real world, we’re going to have to work with other people who are, like, not just girls,” Jacobs said.

Though the Boy Scouts this year loosened its ban on gay leaders and employees, the organization is still an exception to Title IX rule, the federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. “We understand that the values and the lessons of scouting are attractive to the entire family,” the national Boy Scouts organization said. “However, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are year-round programs for boys and young men.” Parents quoted in the Times piece expressed concerned about co-ed camping trips and the possibility that the girls might out-shine the boys — and judging by the go-getting attitude of these girls, they just might. Earlier this year, the Unicorns placed in second at camporee, a scouting event where there were judged against dozens of Boy Scout troops. “We can do the same things boys can — proven from camporee,” Jacobs said. “There’s no really ‘girl things’ or ‘boy things.’” Her brother, 12-year-old Evan, added that he was “very scared” that the girls might win first place next year.

Girls have unsuccessfully been trying to join the Boy Scouts since the 1970s. Though Boy Scout enrollment has been on the decline, the possibility of admitting girls still seems like a long shot. “Maybe their approach should have been to go to the Girl Scouts and say: Instead of painting our nails and clipping our — whatever they do — to do archery and do climbing. Going through that process,” said troop leader Randy Huffman, 56.

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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