Re: Girls in BSA
Norman J. MacLeod (gaelwolf@MARLIN.SSNET.COM)
Sat, 26 Aug 1995 17:33:11 EDT
Coming from the standpoint of someone working with a co-ed programme (Scouts
Canada, with experience in other co-ed programmes as a Leader as well - UK
Scout Asssociation (when it converted to being co-ed at the local Scout
Group option) and Scouting Nederland, which had been co-ed at th elocal
Groep option for several years), I'll toss something into the pot.
Of course, not everyone will agree with what I say, but at least everyone
should get some food for thought. Those of you who also subscribe to
rec.scouting will already know thath this thread is in full motion "over
there", and will have heard most of what I'm going to say - so you can go on
to the next post or read on to see how consisten - or otherwise - I am :)...
>Again the young ladies want to get into the BSA. Shades of Shannon
>Falkner. As I think about it I am of mixed emotions. We send a
>strange message to the girls. WHen it comes to cub or boy scouts it
>is OK to have ladies for leaders but girls for members.
First, the BSA is getting fairly lonely in the WOSM as a male-only (in the
youth side) membership at the Cub Pack and Scout Troop level. Most other
Scout Associations in the non-Islamic world are already co-ed. South Africa
is not, but is actively debating the issue at the national and local levels.
Secondly - this is not anywhere close to the same kind of thing as the
Shannon Faulkner issue. Scouting is neither military nor school. Instead, it
has a completely different philosophy and social environment than either of
the other two examples. Hopefully, this issue is coming to the point where a
choice can be made at the local level - with each Pack and Troop free to
decide whether it will adopt a co-ed membership policy with the concurrence
of its institutional sponsor or remain boys-only. Both forms of Scouting
have proven to be viable over the course of many years' experience in many
The young lady who is currently petitioning the legal system for assistance
in gaining entrance to a Scout Troop has a point that needs to be considered
in many areas of the USA. There is no GSUSA programme in her town for her to
join. Perhaps the town is small and fairly remote from other communities?
Apparently there is not sufficient interest in the community to start a
GSUSA programme, either, or chances are there would be one. Her brother is
in the town's Scout Troop, so their parents may be too involved with the
Troop to be asked to start a GSUSA unit. She has her parents' support -
otherwise she would hardly be likely to be involved in initiating a legal
Steve, you raise some valid points in relation to the GSUSA programme in
general, and how it affects young people and hteir parents in your community
in particular. However, we all need to remember that there are a lot of
GSUSA units that provide a super programme - often more challenging and
exciting than the BSA units in their areas. The crunch comes in terms of the
combination of the quality and number of people willing to build and
maintain a GSUSA programme, as well as the more constrained rules structure
than the BSA has. The BSA side of life appears to have an easier time
finding adequate leadership; the rules structure makes it easier to build an
exciting programme - in exchange for a little more risk, it must be said;
and the rules make it far easier for the BSA units to raise the funds
necessary to operate.
>Finally, I wonder if one of the real sources for opposition to girls
>joining the BSA comes from GSA. IMHO if the girls were allowed to
>join the BSA, GSA would shrink to a mere shadow of itself overnight.
>Can you imagine the fear it would put into their national staff if it
>appeared that BSA was to ever admit girls!
Yes, there would be opposition from the GSUSA executive leadership, as you
note. There was opposition from the Guide Association counterparts in the UK
and Cnada, as well. However, the Scout Associations' co-ed option in the UK
and Cnada has had little or no effect on the Guide Associations' memebrship
rolls in their respective catchments.
(You want expressed opposition? You should have seen the Chief Guide of the
UK Guide Association on the BBC evening news the day that the Chief Scout
announced that the co-ed option was now a reality. She was fuming, to the
point where she actually said that she didn't want the Scout Association
"poaching our girls", as she put it!)
The girls that Scout Groups tend to attract the most are not generally girls
who are leaving the Guides - unless they have a brother in the Scout Group.
The girls we see are those who seem to have no use for the Guides, but want
the type of programme offered by the Scouts. Many of them make the best
Patrol Leaders you will ever see, too...
No, the GSUSA needn't worry about shrinking if the BSA decides to accept
girls at the local unit option. Instead, you will end up with a greater
diversity in your Scouting, with three different options for families to
Packs and Troops with boys-only membership
Packs and Troops with both boys and girls
GSUSA units with girls-only membership
There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY YOU SHOULD MERGE THE BSA AND THE GSUSA!!!!!!!
Some boys thrive best in an all-male Scouting environment, and some girls
would be seriously disadvanteged in a co-ed Scout Group, while another group
of children will rise to the peak of their potentials in a co-ed Scouting
The choice to shoose from among the three, ladies and gentlemen, is probably
the route you should at least explore in your minds.
Those who wish to take a look at co-ed Scouting as it really happens should
seriously consider participating in international events on either side of
the Canadian border, or being more ambitious and taking your Scouts to
Summer Camp in Canada, or participating in one of Scouts Canda's Provincial
Jamborees next year. This way, both yourselves and your Scouts can see how
well - or otherwise - co-ed Scouting works, and whether or not it's
appropriate for your Scout Group. (Keep in mind, though, Canada has only
been at this for four years, so only a growing number of Scout Groups have
girls as members at this point. There will, however, be enough co-ed Groups
present at large-scale events to give you a good look at how it works.)
Don't be surprised if it's hard to tell any difference between boys-only and
co-ed Packs and Troops, though...
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City