The Boy Scouts of America unanimously voted to admit girls into its program Oct. 11.
According to a Boy Scouts press release, the historic decision came after years of requests from girls and their families, as well as extensive research on its benefits. The press release said a program that can serve the whole family will be more appealing to a diverse range of households.
David Gilmore, a senior at UNC and former Boy Scout of eight years, said although he supports the decision, the motives were a little bit questionable.
“The Boy Scouts have been facing a pretty sharp decline in membership over the past few years," he said. "So I’m afraid that this was more of a grab at membership than an actual progressive and ethically motivated decision."
Gilmore said girls may choose Boy Scouts over Girl Scouts based on the prestige that comes with the Eagle Scout rank as opposed to the Gold Award, which isn't recognized in the same way.
Addie Murray, a junior at UNC and former Girl Scout, said whenever she tells people she earned her Gold Award, she has to preface it by saying it is the equivalent of an Eagle Scout rank to a Boy Scout.
“It turns out that Gold Awards are actually harder to get than Eagle Scout awards because they have to be more hours and they have to be sustainable for years to come,” she said. “So it’s actually really unfortunate that people don’t recognize them as much.”
Murray said being in Girl Scouts taught her lessons in female empowerment and working with Title I schools in Charlotte for her Gold Award was probably more rewarding than if she had built a bench in a park.
She also said the decision to let girls into Boy Scouts makes sense, as it is more of an issue with how the programs are designed.
“You think of a Boy Scout and you think of someone who can help you in the wilderness — I didn’t get that from Girl Scouts," she said. "We set up a dog wash and made money, and we learned about sustainable agriculture and all that kind of stuff — so I think as a kid I definitely would have been more drawn to the activities Boy Scouts did.”
Gilmore said he would like to see Boy Scouts try to hold onto their membership by increasing the variety of their programming, standardizing it across troops and reaching populations that have been historically underserved.
"They don’t really teach about things that I find to be most pertinent now, which are like mental health, gender identity, sexual orientation, consent, racism, sexism, ableism, lots of things," he said.
Gilmore said Boy Scouts had a positive impact on his life, and he wants to see the organization change and progress.
"I hope that they take this implementation seriously and that it’s not just a membership grab," he said. "It being a membership grab is also really problematic considering the basis on which it’s doing so, the privilege that Boy Scouts have enjoyed for so long that so many people haven’t had access to.”
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