Commentary

Boy Scouts Drop 'Boy' From Program For Older Youth In New Campaign

Boys will be Scouts BSA; so, too will older girls after Boy Scouts of America announced a name change yesterday as part of its ongoing repositioning into a gender-neutral organization as it unveiled its plans for a new “Scout Me In” marketing campaign. 

“As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in scouting in every way possible. That is why it is important that the name for our scouting program for older youth remains consistent with the single-name approach used for the Cub Scouts,” chief scout executive Michael Surbaugh says in the press release announcing the transition. “Starting in February 2019, the name of the older youth program will be ‘Scouts BSA,’ and the name of our iconic organization will continue to be Boy Scouts of America.”

“Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids,” Stephen Medlicott, the organization’s national marketing group director of Boy Scouts of America. “That’s why we love ‘Scout Me In’ — because it speaks to girls and boys and tells them, ‘This is for you. We want you to join!’”

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“The name is part of a rebranding effort to reflect the group's historic decision last year to accept girls. Since then, 3,000 girls have joined Cub Scouts, the program for younger children,” write Joy Resmovits and Anh Do for the Los Angeles Times.

“The name change is the latest piece of a culture shift within the storied organization, which in recent years has lifted its ban on gay and transgender members after years of debate. It comes as scouting has seen a decline in participation, something officials hope the modernization effort will reverse,” they continue.

“Boy Scouts of America claims almost 2.3 million members, down from 2.6 million five years ago. That includes Venturing and Sea Scouting programs, the latter allowing membership up to 21 years of age. In its peak years, BSA had more than 4 million participants,” reports John Bacon for USA Today.

“ … It’s too early to determine what impact the aggressive BSA effort to recruit girls will have on the Girl Scouts, an organization best known for its lucrative annual cookie sales. The organization, founded two years after Boy Scouts, currently claims a membership of about 1.8 million,” Bacon writes. 

The Boy Scouts were founded in the U.S. in 1910 by Chicago publisher W. D. Boyce after an encounter with a British Scout who helped him find his way out of a fog and refused a tip.

Scouts BSA “will stay divided along gender lines.… Surbaugh told the AP that having separate units for boys and girls would address concerns that girls joining the program for the first time might start off behind in the long climb to leadership opportunities,” Rachel Siegel writes for the Washington Post.

To suggest that the announcement was met with universal acclaim would be to ignore our gaping rift in opinions and values amplified by social media.

“The world is increasingly losing its marbles when it comes to things like this. Take that from someone who knows,” writes re porter David Whitley in a commentary for the Orlando Sentinel. “‘We see boys and girls as equal but not the same,’ Maryann Barry said. ‘We celebrate that difference.’

“She’s the CEO of Girl Scouts of Citrus, which runs the Girl Scouts programs for six Central Florida counties. She knows more about behavioral dynamics than the social experimenters who think gender distinction is so 1950 and the world is awash in ‘toxic masculinity.’”

Whitley concludes his piece by bestowing the revamped Scouts with the “the first merit badge in toxic stupidity.”

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America assert in a blog post that it “is unmatched in delivering proven outcomes that set girls up to close the gender gap and position our nation to compete in the global economy.”

It is also “ramping up a competitive campaign in response. New additions to their program will include a heavier focus on STEM and the outdoors, as well as an expansion of networking opportunities for Girl Scouts alums,” Haley Britzky reports for Axios.

Prefacing a compilation of social media reactions on cincinnati.com, Taylor Jade Powell observes “while some have praised the Boy Scouts of America for inclusion, others are up in arms.” To wit:

“So, Boy Scouts is admitting girls and won’t be called Boy Scouts anymore. How soon before they change the name to People Scouts?” tweets Jack Posobiec, a vocal Trump supporter who is frequently referred to as an “alt-right conspiracy theorist.” 

We’ll leave the last word to Eugene Gu, M.D., an outspoken critic of the President who tweets: “All these conservative snowflakes getting outraged about the Boy Scouts accepting girls and changing its name to Scouts BSA don’t realize that it’s simply a business decision. With declining membership, they need the girls or it would be called Bankrupt Scouts.”

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