Last week, the Boy Scouts of America announced it would reverse its century-old policy of no girls allowed—and the Girl Scouts aren’t happy.
“Why not ask us how we could help them serve the 90 percent of the boys they’re choosing not to serve instead of pursuing serving girls?” asked Lisa Margosian, the Girl Scouts’ Chief Customer Officer, in an interview.
On October 11, the Boy Scouts said it will begin accepting girls into its Cub Scouts program, as well as establish a program for older girls to earn their Eagle Scout Award. The reaction from many, including some former Boy Scouts, was one of outrage: Why should girls join a boys’ organization when there’s already one specifically designed for girls? The Girl Scouts felt the same way. In a blog post on October 11, the organization called itself the “girl leadership expert,” and stressed the power of the “single-gender environment.”
The Boy Scouts’ decision is a major reversal from an organization that has always been staunchly committed to single-sex programming, and has, in its early history, bristled at the idea of girls getting involved in scouting. While the change does offer another choice for young girls, it also introduces a new competitor into the field of girls programming, which could ultimately hurt the Girl Scouts and undermine their mission to cultivate leadership skills and self confidence in young girls. (For full disclosure, I was a Girl Scout throughout elementary and high school, although I’m no longer directly involved with the organization.)