Re: Girls in BSA
Norman J. MacLeod (gaelwolf@MARLIN.SSNET.COM)
Sun, 27 Aug 1995 19:47:17 EDT
Whoa - I sense a bit of emotion creeping into your post...
>Right off the bat, let's dismiss this notion that it's the 11-year-old
>girl in question who is motivating this law suit. It's her litigious
>parents who are the cause of this action. They are apparently fighting
>for their child's supposed "right" to belong to a private organization.
For starters, I have some seriously mixed emotions about whether or not the
courts are the place to be making the decision on whether or not he BSA
should allow the local Packs and Troops the option of admitting girls as
members. While it seems pretty extrreme to go out and hire a lawyer to take
the issue to court, neither you nor I know the particulars behind the case
beyond a brief UPI press note. If, indeed, the young lady is the one who
decided to go to court, you have to admire her courage, even if you don't
agree with her tactics.
Next, I know kids who would be fully capable of taking this step on their
own. Never underestimate the abilities of an eleven year old. As if their
own intelligence were not enough, they have had some pretty darn good basic
training in how to deal with the legal system in the form of several films
about kids hiring lawyers and taking hte system on. While I would assume her
parents are supporting her in this, I would not automatically assume that
they are the ones who got the legal ball rolling. Some time ago my guys were
watching Nick News Five (I think that's the name of the show), and there was
a piece about a young lady who sued the BSA in an attempt to join the same
Troop as her brothers. She didn't make it, but she was on a very popular
show, saying that more girls should try... It would be nice to find out some
more details about this particular case, though.
>Also, let's not underestimate the potential motivations for this suit.
>Why aren't these parents suing the GSUSA to start a troop in their
>area? Why aren't they just starting a Girl Scout Troop? Why is it the
>BSA's fault that there isn't a program for their daughter? It seems
>apparent to me that the BSA is the target here, not the well-being of
Good questions. But, again, I don't think wwe can be certain her parents are
behind this. Assumptions can be hazardous things to accept as fact without a
lot of good information to back them up - which I don't think we have yet.
While the BSA has made a clear corporate stance on this issue, I don't know
as its interpretation of equal opportunity laws are necessarilly solidly
enough based to sustain boys-only membership at the Cub and Scout level,
particularly when it is already co-ed with Exploring, and is experimenting
with co-ed activities at the venture/Varsity level.
To say that the government has no role to play may be an error. If the
government has no role to play, why are courts willing to take this issue to
trial? This is not the first time this has come to trial, you know. As to
single-gender being a basic tenet of Scouting - this may presently be true
in the BSA, but there is a heavy load of precedent for mixed-gender Scouting
in nearly every Scout Association in non-Islamic nations.
I am not certain how allowing the local Troop or Pack to allow girls to join
would constitute "trying to tear it (BSA) down for what they perceive to be
some over-riding noble purpose." The young lady wishes to join the same
Troop her brother is in. That's about as noble as it gets to begin with. The
fight and legal battle comes after the BSA sends a letter back telling her
she does not qualify becaus the Troop is for boys only...
I am glad you welcome debate on the issue of whether the BSA should have a
co-ed option. However, why does one have to be involved in the BSA to
participate? Mind you, while I am living in the States, I am involved in the
BSA, and I have been made to feel extremely welcome by my fellow Scouters
and the Scouts here. When I am living in another nation, then I am involved
with their Scout Association. I've learned a lot, and have seen and
participated in many different types of Scouting. I would not presume to try
to tear it down - but I would like to help bring more quality to the
programmes I am invoved with. We are not an organisation where possible
changes cannot be brought to the table and debated, so let's at least be
gentle as we go.
I fully agree that the choice of whether or not girls should be allowed to
join Packs or Troops should remain in the BSA's hands, and not the courts.
But, wouldn't it be nice if the BSA would survey its adult and youth
membership to see how they feel about the possibilitiy of making co-ed
Scouting an option? The UK Scout Association canvased its membership for
input into the discussions that resulted in co-ed Scouting being offered as
an option for the local Scout Groups to choose if they so wish.
A lot of money will come out of the BSA's coffers to help fight this court
case. If the case is won by the plaintif, more money will be spent on
appeal. If the BSA wins, there will be another young lady to bring the issue
before the Bench again.
Where will it end?
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City