In the effort to elevate girls, why do we need to destroy organizations designed to help boys? That’s precisely what’s happening to one of America’s oldest and most trusted organizations—an organization actually created to help boys develop into civic-minded, responsible men.
The Boy Scouts of America announced this week that starting next year, young girls can join their own sex-segregated Cub Scout units (usually made up of elementary school-aged boys) and that, by 2019, a separate program for older girls (ostensibly at the Boy Scout level) will be available to allow girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. How long the organization plans to retain the patriarchal name “Boy Scouts” hasn’t been addressed by Scout leadership.
Yet, the organization did attempt to explain the change, saying in a statement that the new policy “reflects the changing nature of American life.” That’s nice. Bromides like that go over well with people who know very little about the Boy Scouts. But someone should probably point out to the organization’s weak leadership that a better policy for an organization that is more than a century old might be to stand steadfast in the face of cultural change. After all, the “changing nature” of American life has also produced a market for the odious Kardashian family’s television show and allowed people like anti-Boy Scout Harvey Weinstein to treat women monstrously.
Of course, it’s not the presence of girls at a Cub Scout den meeting that’s the problem. It’s the very clear suggestion that an organization that’s made up of boys and that celebrates boys and boyhood is inherently flawed and needs reform. That’s the message being sent by the new policy.
And it also signals that the leadership of the Boy Scouts isn’t willing to acknowledge the reality of what boys face in our culture. Here’s just a sample of the grim reality: Young men are less likely to graduate high school. They are less likely to attend college or seek higher graduate degrees than young women. Young men are more likely than females to commit crimes, end up in jail, and suffer from addiction. For decades, the country’s educational system has ignored the developmental needs of boys, instead focusing solely on encouraging girls.
But, but, say defenders of the new policy, the Boy Scouts did a survey that showed parents not involved in scouting had high levels of interest in getting their daughters signed up for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. Perhaps a better survey question would have been to ask these folks: “Have you ever heard of the Girl Scouts?” The answer might be “No,” but I suspect my more cynical theory is correct: This has very little to do with pleasing these interested parents and more to do with pleasing radical feminists and the politically correct media.
Of course, one wonders what will happen to the Girl Scouts now that girls and young women have the shiny new option of taking their business to the now gender-neutral boys club. In the past decade, Girl Scouts leadership has embraced more variety for their programs. Not just for ambitious cookie hawkers, today’s Girl Scout can gain experience in STEM, outdoor skills, life skills, and entrepreneurship.
Further proving the absurdity of the Boy Scout policy change, the Girl Scouts actually have an Eagle Scout-level award called the Gold Award—the Girl Scout’s highest honor, which requires girls to solve a community problem. Golden Award-winning projects (which are exactly like the projects boys must complete to earn their Eagle Scout badge) have included the construction of a community garden, development of a town-wide recycling program, promoting STEM and mathematics programs at an elementary school, and the creation of a city-wide first aid and emergency preparedness educational program.
Considering the similarities between Eagle Scout requirements and Golden Award requirements, this naturally makes one wonder: Is the Boy Scout organization suggesting the Golden Award isn’t as prestigious or that it doesn’t match the heft of the Eagle Scout designation? That seems pretty rude, if not outright sexist.
Sadly, what’s lost in all of this silliness and pandering is the recognition that there’s nothing wrong with single sex institutions like the Boy and Girl Scouts. In fact, there’s value in segregating the sexes. Having boys surrounded by boys means boys participate in the type of rough-and-tumble physical play that boys are known to love. Meanwhile, girls benefit by being around other girls because in a more secure environment, girls tend to take more risks.
But none of this well-known research means much to the leadership of the Boy Scouts, who would rather pander to the gender parity crowd than honor the traditions of their heretofore much-loved organization. It appears likely that an organization that has thrived for more than 100 years will, for all intents and purposes, cease to exist, simply because it has the word “Boy” in it—which is precisely what gender activists intended all along.