There is currently a group of girls in Santa Rosa, CA called the "Unicorns" who wish to become official members of Boy Scouts of America (BSA). Between the ages of 10 and 13, many were previously Girl Scouts, but disliked the non-adventurous and laid back atmosphere of girl scouting activities. The mother of one of the girls claims, "After lunch, you take a nap for an hour you sit on your bunk and you can read or color or write to a friend. You can't talk." These girls decided to take matters into their own hands.
The idea all started when the "Unicorns" took part in a BSA-affiliated event that was open to both boys and girls. Since then, they have also participated in a "camporee", which is basically a series of friendly competitions in which many different Scout troops come and participate in outdoor challenges. The girls impressively earned 2nd place. In addition, the girls have formed a "companion council", which is a group loosely affiliated with BSA, in this case, a local den. The small group attends the same den meetings, participates in the same den activities, earns the same Cub Scout patches, and has even secured the support of several local BSA leaders. Unfortunately for the girls, BSA official policy is this: "The Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs are designed for boys and young men.", which means that the girls will never be able to become official Boy Scouts and perhaps more importantly, that the girls will be forced to disband their companion council group.
This brings up an interesting question: Should girls be allowed to join Boy Scouts? Before I present the arguments for both sides, I know that some of you may have been wondering about Title IX. Hmmmm...If you can't discriminate based on sex, then the girls have a pretty good argument, right? Wrong. Section 1681 (a)(6)(B) of Title IX grants exceptions to both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Just thought it would be good to clear that up!
One side would argue "yes" for several reasons. The first being the fact that girls want to do more "Boy Scout-like" activities that are not available to them in Girl Scouts. The second being the fact that it is unreasonable to believe that girls would be unable to keep up with the boys' activities. The girls who won 2nd place in the camporee can testify to that. The third being that if local leaders support the measure, why are they still being hindered by the "higher" ranks of the BSA administration?
The other side, arguing "no" would also have a compelling argument. They would argue that Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are organizations that , for over 100 years, have been devoted to the development of the young boys and young men in this world. Meetings should be a place where boys get to interact with other boys, which is a unique and valuable experience. They don't believe that girls are in any way inferior to the boys, they just believe that it is expected that Boy Scouts be for boys. If girls want to do more "Boy Scout-like" activities, then she should pressure her own Girl Scout troop or council to change, not attempt to gain entry in to an all-boys organization. Also, during camping outings, the possibility of boys and girls sharing tents could potentially be something to worry about. [Lastly, not all Girl Scout groups are like what was described in the first paragraph by one of the mothers. I know from experience that there is a significant amount of troops, at least in this area, that do participate in camping, hiking, and shooting activities. There are definitely some troops like the one the mother described, but don't go thinking all troops are like that.]
I should add that to BSA's credit, there are several coed programs that are offered. For example, "Venture Scouts" is basically the same thing as a traditional Boy Scout troop, except for two differences. The first difference is that Venturing is open to both boys and girls. The second is that there is even more of a focus on high adventure and outdoor activities. As another example, "Sea Scouts" is a program, like Venture Scouts, where both boys and girls are able to function similarly to a traditional Boy Scout troop, except with an emphasis on water activities, especially maritime and boating skills.
As a Boy Scout myself, when I saw this in the news, I thought it would be really interesting to explore and especially relevant to our last unit. What do you all think? Should girls be allowed in to Boy Scouts? If so, should boys be allowed in to Girl Scouts? Any other thoughts, questions?
**[bracketed statement is from my own observation. I am not taking sides on the issue here but rather adding a little bit of my own knowledge from experience teaching large groups of girls at Girl Scout camp]**