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COLUMN: Boy Scouts of America should not accept girls



The Boy Scouts of America has been having an identity crisis for several years. 

The BSA clarified its admissions policy in 2012, banning homosexuals from becoming members and leaders. A short two years later, it relieved this ban on homosexual membership, while standing firmly on its ban of homosexual leaders. 

That ban, however, was lifted in just one year. Earlier this year, it began to allow transgender boys into the organization.

Now, after more than 100 years of tradition, the BSA has stated it plans to completely welcome girls into the organization.

This decision was a completely irrational move that was made in fear of the organization’s financial future. 

In just the last few years, the BSA has suffered a decline of membership by about 10 percent and millions of dollars in lost revenue. This newly inclusive membership seems to be a response to these numbers. However, the BSA has failed to notice the repercussions of this decision. 

Some parents have expressed concern about the organization's new policy. For instance, some Indiana parents have stated that a co-ed setting may cause girls to have poorer self-confidence than in a girls-only environment. 

Similarly, concerned BSA troop leaders have stated, “Adding girls to troops would alter the scouting experience for both boys and girls and not adequately address each group's developmental needs.”

Not only is this a poor decision for the BSA itself, but it also will be a detriment to the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. 

If girls are admitted into the BSA program, then the membership and funding for the GSUSA will inevitably fall in upcoming years.

This is no argument of equality, misogyny or sexism — both the BSA and the GSUSA have been dedicated to the preservation and betterment of the specific needs of boys and girls, respectively.

The GSUSA focuses on furthering women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, which has been heavily praised and needed. If the number of girls in the GSUSA lowers, it will only slow the progress for women in these professions. 

The BSA did not include the GSUSA in the discussion of this new policy, which sparked the GSUSA to respond against the idea in a letter, stating that a program specifically tailored for boys cannot be simply translated to girls.

The letter further suggests that the BSA focuses on recruitment of the 90 percent of boys that are not involved in the organization, rather than opening the door to girls.

The best option for the BSA is focusing on recruiting from the overwhelming population of boys in the U.S. that are not involved in the program – especially those of minority groups that are underrepresented in the BSA.

Attempting to recruit girls as Boy Scouts is nothing more than a poor attempt at increasing membership and, ultimately, revenue.

In order to carry this century-old organization into the new year, the Boy Scouts must focus on cultural needs for its members and its decades of tradition as a boys-only organization.

smitheta@indiana.edu

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