By Kyra Tosi
Girls interested in Boy Scouts are likely aware that in other countries the Boy Scout troops allow girls to join Boy Scouts as well. Why is it fair that girls in other countries are allowed to participate in these experiences that will change their lives for the better, but the United States doesn’t even consider it? Obviously the girls that want to join Boy Scouts believe that there is something the Boy Scouts have that the Girl Scouts can’t offer. So why are leaders of the Boy Scouts denying these girls the opportunity to learn and challenge themselves more?
Although there are some similarities between the two organizations, there are also many differences, which should be explained.
Boy Scouts have both national and international events for the purpose of meeting fellow Boy Scouts in different states and countries. But according to Scouting.org, Girl Scouts do not have the opportunity to experience many similar events.
Girl Scouts encourage working in groups, and according to Scouting.org, at least 30% of all time is spent on group activates; however, Boy Scouts are more self-reliant with less than 20% of work being done in groups. So, if a girl wanted to learn to be more self-reliant and less dependent on others for help, it would be more beneficial for the girl to join Boy Scouts.
Some may propose that Venturing Troops is a solution to this problem. Venturing Troops is a branch of Boy Scouts that is available to girls as well as boys. The purpose of venturing is to provide positive experiences to help young people mature and to prepare them to become responsible, caring adults. However, Venturing Troops does not share the exact same experiences and awards as the Boy Scouts. For example, while both organizations encourage the development of positive attributes like cooperation and generosity, Boy Scouts places an emphasis on teaching boys to act on instincts while Girl Scouts encourages girls to develop new talents, skills and friendships.
A difference between the two organizations’ awards must also be noted. According to the Boy Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts’ highest rank is the Eagle Scout Award, and only 5% of Boy Scouts receive it. To earn the Eagle Scout Award, the scout must be at least 11 years old, but no older than 18 years old. In addition, the scout must have a minimum of 21 merit badges, including the 12 required badges. They must also spend at least 6 months in a leadership position of the troop. After completing these requirements, they must then complete a task for the community; the task is their choice, and it may be whatever they think that their community could benefit from. To achieve a merit badge, the scout must choose a subject to complete within a particular category such as sports, business, crafts, science etc. They must meet with the counselor in charge of the merit badge and complete the given task. When finalized, the scout must present the finished product of the project or present the new knowledge learned from this merit badge to earn the actual badge.
The highest honor for a Girl Scout is called the Gold Award, and only 5.4% of Girl Scouts achieve this rank according to Girlscouts.org. For a Girl Scout to achieve the highest rank, she must complete an act of public service. There are no other tasks for girls to complete other than to attend the Girl Scout meetings. But the Girl Scouts do have a rule that in order to be able to receive this award, you must be an ambassador. Only girls in grades 11 and 12 can be ambassadors. To achieve a badge, the girl must prove herself proficient in the area in which she is trying to receive the badge. There are official badges in categories such as first aid, crafting, and other life skills. Girl Scouts sell highly coveted cookies to learn: confidence, goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics.
The Boy Scout Award may be more enticing for scouts because of the small number of people who actually achieve the award and because it shows that one must have years of discipline, or at the very least, a year. The Girl Scout Award does not require as much discipline.
Although the Boy Scouts claim to be accepting of all people, this is clearly not the case. As one can review on the rules and regulations page of the Boy Scouts’ website, “It is the philosophy of Scouting to welcome all eligible youth, regardless of race, ethnic background, or sexual orientation, who are willing to accept Scouting’s values and meet any other requirements of membership. Young people of all religious backgrounds are welcome in Scouting, with some participating in units for youths of a particular religion and the greater majority participating in units open to members of various religious backgrounds.” However, the statement says nothing about gender. The organization claims that the Boy Scouts do not discriminate. However, if they don’t, then why do they exclude girls? The Boy Scouts may respond that “they’re committed to the exclusion of girls as a matter of their core definition, and therefore invoke their constitutional right to associate in a discriminatory fashion.” But is that truly fair?
There is something that makes Boy Scouts more appealing to some girls. So why not allow girls to join? Why are the organization’s leaders denying girls the opportunity to learn and challenge themselves more in an organization of their choice?