The Boy Scouts of America has announced plans to admit girls starting next year, and to establish a new program for older girls. In a strongly worded statement, the Girl Scouts of the USA condemned the Boy Scouts move to include girls, telling news outlets that “instead of addressing systemic issues of continuing sexual assault, financial mismanagement and deficient programming, BSA’s senior management wants to add an accelerant to the house fire by recruiting girls.”
Dr. Ritch C. Savin-Williams is a developmental psychology professor at Cornell University who has written eight books on adolescent development. He has also served as an expert witness on same-sex marriage, gay adoption, and Boy Scout court cases. Savin-Williams doesn’t advocate a merger of Girl and Boy Scouts, but says for the sake of many children, they should become partners.
“Developmentally, it is critical for girls to have options that best suits their needs – now and in the future. For some girls, this is to join all-female oriented clubs, organizations, and activities that foster ‘girl power’ and connections with other girls. For others, joining mixed-sex groups might best meet their needs. Perhaps for most girls, however, having the opportunity for multiple options, some all-female and some mixed-sex, is best. We should not limit girls by saying which youth oriented organizations they can and cannot become members of.
“The Girl Scouts have a powerful, rich history of being one of the nation’s most important organizations for girls, and this opening by the Boy Scouts to admit girls should not threaten that accomplishment or future. On the other hand, the Boy Scouts are struggling with modernity and I believe for the sake of many girls and boys, the Girl Scouts should become partners with the Boy Scouts. All youth, regardless of sex, would benefit. I would not, however, advocate their merger as there is still a critical role for all-female organizations to exist – at least until we have gender equality.”