Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday its historic decision to allow girls to join its Cub Scout program and plans to develop a scouting program for older girls that would enable them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
After a brief silence, Girl Scouts of the USA responded to the decision. And the organization is not happy.
On Thursday, Girl Scouts issued a statement to ABC News: “The Boy Scouts’ house is on fire. 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.”
The organization also seemed to respond to the news with a blog post on its website titled “Girl Scouts Is the Girl Leadership Expert.”
“Girl Scouts is the best girl leadership organization in the world, created with and for girls,” the blog post begins. “We believe strongly in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides, which creates a free space for girls to learn and thrive.”
The post also touts the “benefit of the single-gender environment,” as supported by research, praise from other youth-serving organizations and the experiences of scouts and their families.
As “the girl experts” for more than 100 years, the organization notes that Girl Scouts provides a program tailored to young women’s unique developmental needs and offers opportunities for STEM learning, outdoor adventures, mentorship, entrepreneurship and more.
“Girl Scouts helps all girls take the lead early and often,” the post reads. “The Girl Scout Leadership Experience pairs girls with strong, caring female role models and mentors who prepare them to take the lead from age 5 to 18 and into adulthood.”
The post also cites “proven outcomes” for girls, like the achievement of the Girl Scout Gold Award and the fact that Girl Scout alumnae make up 90 percent of female astronauts, 80 percent of female tech leaders, 75 percent of current U.S. senators and all female secretaries of state. It also suggests that former Girl Scouts are better educated, have more career success, earn a higher income, take a more active role in their communities and have more confidence than women who didn’t participate in the program.
“The need for female leadership has never been clearer or more urgent than it is today — and only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success,” the blog post concludes. “Girl Scouts works. We’re committed to preparing the next generation of women leaders, and we’re here to stay.”
The Boy Scouts’ decision to admit girls was met with praise and criticism from many different sides. Several parents have noted that their daughters prefer Boy Scouts anyway, saying they wish Girl Scouts would provide more wilderness and adventure opportunities.
But mom and New York Times correspondent Claire Cain Miller suggests in a new piece that boys could get a lot out of the Girl Scout curriculum as well.
“Boys are falling behind in school and in some parts of the economy. That’s in part because modern-day work relies less on physical labor and more on caregiving and collaboration,” she wrote, noting that jobs involving “so-called feminine skills” are on the rise.
“Meanwhile, when girls are encouraged to do things that boys have traditionally done, but boys aren’t encouraged to do ‘girl’ things, it’s a message that what’s masculine is superior and what’s feminine is inferior,” she added. “That dynamic helps explain why jobs that are considered traditionally female pay less, and why pay goes down when women enter jobs that used to be done mostly by men.”
Cain Miller detailed specific Girl Scout badge skills that could serve men in their personal and professional lives ― from learning to write down your feelings to respecting yourself and others to “finding common ground.”
Following the Boy Scouts announcement, Girl Scouts has not indicated any plans to open up its organization to boys.