The Girl Scouts of the USA have sent the Boy Scouts of America a letter accusing the group of “undercutting” the Girl Scouts by “surreptitiously testing the appeal of a girls’ offering to millennial parents.” In the letter, which was obtained by Buzzfeed News, it was claimed that the BSA was only considering allowing girls in because of its declining membership, and that BSA leaders had begun making “disparaging and untrue remarks” about the Girl Scouts to parents while pitching its own potential girls’ programming.
“We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls,” wrote GSUSA’s national president, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, in the letter. “Rather than seeking to fundamentally transform BSA into a co-ed program, we believe strongly that Boy Scouts should instead take steps to ensure that they are expanding the scope of their programming to all boys, including those who BSA has historically underserved and underrepresented, such as African American and Latino boys.” Hopinkah said the effort amounted to a “covert campaign to recruit girls,” The New York Times reported.
In a statement, a BSA spokesman admitted to Buzzfeed News that the Boy Scouts had “been exploring the benefits” of letting girls join, but that “no decisions have been made.”
In an article written for Slate’s The XX Factor, Christina Cauterucci noted that the Boy Scouts were founded as a socially conservative response to fears that city living was transforming “rugged American boys” into “weaklings.” The Girl Scouts, by contrast, began as a place where girls could explore a love of the outdoors that normally was discouraged in women.
“If the Boy Scouts were founded to tether boys to stringent gender norms,” Cauterucci wrote, “the Girl Scouts were founded to challenge them.”
Even if the Boy Scouts does open their programming, Cauterucci concluded, girls would still be better served joining a group that isn’t “known for its history of regressive politics” and “traditional notions of masculinity.”
Below, watch video of Rachel Simmons discussing the issue on Good Morning America.
— Rachel Simmons (@RachelJSimmons) August 24, 2017