Re: Continuing the discussion even more ... against GIRLS!
Norman MacLeod (gaelwolf@DMV.COM)
Sun, 1 Jun 1997 14:59:34 -0400
Lawrence E. Faust wrote:
1) I'm not sure that putting sexually maturing teenagers of both sexes
"under canvas" (separate tents, of course) for a weekend would be either
wise or practical. For one thing, both a male & female leader would have to
"stand watch" in shifts all night, every night just to make sure no
hanky-panky goes on. Not to mention, latrines & showers. Just imagining
headlines & news stories loaded with misinformation give me the willies.
Although I have been a Leader in more than one co-ed Scout Group, neither I
nor any of the other Leaders have found it necessary to stand watch to prevent
First of all, a Scout is trustworthy, and needs to be trusted. If you don't trust a
Scout, he or she may go out of their way to prove you were right not to trust
them. If you trust them not to get up to "anything", then they are not likely to.
There are too many other kids around, and most of them would not dare do
anything that could prove embarrassing. Believe me, if they were to be doing
anything, the other kids would know, and it would not be long before the
Leaders did too.
It's far safer for a pair who wish to "do something" to do it at whichever home
has both parents working and no chance of sibling interruption -- statistics
from the USA tell us that home is where the vast majority of teen pregnancies
begin, and this would not have anything at all to do with whether or not they
were in the same Scout Group.
2) At that age, boys & girls begin to make "overtures" to the opposite
in order to attract them. In boys, this sometimes takes the form of showing
off to impress the girls. These displays might impact the program
safety-wise. It would also tend toward a rather ugly form of
"stratification" among the youth, among sexual lines, based on maturity,
security, aggressiveness, and attractiveness. Which in turn, would tend to
foster feelings of inferiority & insecurity among those who unfortunately
wind up at the bottom end of the "stratification" stick.
Haven't noted this in the Scouting milieu. Scouts in Patrols tend to treat each
other along the lines of brother and sister, with Scouts in other Patrols being
more analogous to cousins than to potential dates. Scouting is not the same
social environment as school or neighbourhood, but is structured more along
the lines of an extended family -- something with which many kids would not
otherwise be able to experience in this day and age.
3) Also, there's this competition thing going on between the sexes,
sometimes turns nasty with one sex insisting that they're better than the
other. We'd probably wind up with all-girl patrols vs. all-boy patrols. I'm
just not convinced that we need to introduce the nuances of learning to cope
with the "war between the sexes", with all it's attendant negativity, at the
same time we're supposed to make Scouting more fun for everyone.
In the co-ed Scout Groups of my experience, competition occurs between
Patrols, not between the kids in each Patrol -- at least not any more than it
takes place in any boys-only or girls-only Patrol.
When you work from the family-based approach to Scouting, the war between
the sexes is not a player after the Patrol becomes mixed --except for the first
mealtime where a boy will assert that cooking or washing the dishes is a girl's
job and ends up cooking and doing the dishes while she is lashing together a
gateway or monkey bridge.
4) There's also the dating thing. Can you just imagine the
within a Troop of a Scout dating another Scout, and then breaking up (as
teenage relationships often do) in a VERY negative way? How about
Scouts of different Troops?
This is more likely to happen between Scouts of different Troops, and is really
no big deal. If it does happen within the Troop (as it very rarely does -- we are
not a dating service, after all...), then the Leaders and peers have an
opportunity to learn mediating skills and the two Scouts involved learn about
resolving their difficulty amicably and learning how to work together as peers
In this type of situation we have the opportunity to guide people through a
real-life issue for which our kids generally do not receive any effective training
from any other agency. There's a lot to be said for working with the
opportunity, as if could help prevent poor family relationships for these kids in
I am answering from the "glass is half full" standpoint instead of the "glass is
half empty" standpoint. Perhaps the difficulty is seeing if we can't look at this
issue from a positive standpoint instead of presuming from the negative...
I agree with others, that in an ideal world, co-ed Scouting would truly be
a wonderful thing- a chance for young people of both sexes to get together
in a positive environment to build their characters and gain a true
understanding of each other's abilities (My 12 year old daughter's been
working with my Cub Scout den since Tigers. She really loves Scouting).
it ain't an ideal world out there, Patty. Sadly, things are gonna happen
between boys & girls given a chance. Some of them, quite nasty and
Accusations, assumptions, and innuendo will be made by society at large,
regardless of the truth, and will have an enormous impact of the American
Scouting community. Not to mention how parents will react to co-ed
Part of the reason this is not an ideal world is that society is doing such a poor
job of preparing our children for life after school. This has always been a gap
that Scouting has worked to fill for as many children as would join. If we have
boys and girls in our Scout Groups, and are adequately trained in
pre-adolescent and adolescent social dynamics, we will be able to help fill this
gap in their education. "Things" are far less likely to happen between young
people who learn to live together (in separate tents, in most countries) than
they are to happen between young people who are in Scouting together.
Parental reaction is what you make it. In most nations that have co-ed
Scouting, each Scout Group chooses whether or not it will accept girls as
members, There are generally all-boy or all-girl Scout Groups for those
families who do not wish to participate in co-ed Scout Groups. Parents can
always be invited along on camping trips and other activities to help provide
leadership and to learn how their children work with the others.
You may counter that other international Scouting organizations have
Scouting. True 'nuff, but have you taken a REAL close look at those
Most, if not all of them, have had to so radically restructure their
programs due in large part to going co-ed, that their brand of Scouting is
but a mere shadow of the original organization, not to mention the focus
present in it's BSA variant. I point you to Britain's Scout Association
(http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/) for a prime example of this "watering-down".
Excuse me? I'm speaking from the standpoint of having been a member of a
few of these co-ed option Scout Associations, and was a member of the UK
Scout Association when it began accepting girls as members in the Beaver,
Cub, and Scout sections. (They had already been accepting girls in the
Venture Scout Units for years.)
The programmes WERE NOT radically restructured! In the case of the UK
Scout Association, we simply moved along the same as before, without any
changes to any badge requirements. There were just some Groups that now
had a few girls in the same uniform as the boys. There have still NOT been any
major changes as a result of girls being present in the Association.
The differences evident between the UK Scout Association an the B-P Scouts
has less to do with the UK Scout Association accepting girls than it has to do
with a difference in philosophy about how Scouting should react to changes in
society. These changes were put in place years before girls began to join
Scout Groups in the UK. (I believe the UK Scouts in Australia offer a co-ed
option to their Groups as well, but I am not certain of this -- hopefully someone
else can speak to this point.)
I wouldn't be so certain that other Scout Associations have made major
changes as a result of girls joining, either. Nor would I say that very many have
become "mere shadows" of their original organisations. I do speak from
experience on this...
In some nations there have been out and out mergers between the Boy Scouts
and the Girls Guides, often as a result of membership problems coupled with
the financial burden of managing headquarters organisations. In those cases
where mergers were a financial necessity, there were programme changes,
but these were generally to take the best of both the Scout and Guide
Associations and integrated them into a single programme -- often with the
result of a strengthened programme at the end of the merger period.
Maybe it's that American youth are
less sexually mature and/or secure than their international counterparts. I
I don't believe this to be the case. American youth are much the same as
young people anywhere else in the world.
Please feel free to take this view from experience as you wish. It's my
experience, as well as that of many others. Whether the BSA changes its
membership policies or not doesn't matter too much to me, but I felt it was a
good idea to weigh in, even at the expense of lengthening the thread yet
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City