Scouting for Equality: Boy and Girl Scouts respond to the latest changes surrounding the BSA

Mallika Singh

Since 1912, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have been a place for youth to participate in group activities and learn more about their individuality, strength and intellect. Both are organizations designed specifically with each gender in mind.

While Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have been divided for over 100 years, according to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), it has been getting requests for the integration of girls for years now. In response, on October 11, the BSA announced it would accept girls in Cub Scouts, a form of Scouts for younger kids, making it possible for them to reach the rank of Eagle Scout.

Senior Jonathan Ho, a member of the BSA for seven years, was initially very surprised when he heard the news. He explained that he saw it as he scrolled through his Facebook feed. He, like many other boys in the BSA, did not see it coming at all.

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Ho’s initial feelings were neither negative nor positive; he just did not see it coming. However, he does know other people who did not feel the same way. To many, the inclusion of girls in the BSA would change a program they have enjoyed since its beginnings.

“Some friends did [react] negatively,” Ho said. “They were like, ‘What’s going on? That would screw everything up.’ Little kids in Cub Scouts, they would act immaturely with girls around and they thought it was a completely stupid idea, so they were like, ‘There’s Girl Scouts for a reason.’”

Senior Anika Ramachandran, a member of Girl Scouts, feels strongly about creating a completely new Scouts organization that includes both boys and girls rather than lumping girls in with Boy Scouts or vice versa. Ramachandran agreed with Ho in that starting these kids off in a co-ed environment would be beneficial to them in developing social skills around the opposite sex.

“I would totally [support] the two just merging together and creating Scouts of America, but I’m just not for this initiative of still having them separate but then calling girls Boy Scouts,” Ramachandran said. “If it’s from a young age that they’re put together, I don’t see any problem. I feel like from a young age it’ll actually help them learn from each other.”

Ramachandran also believes that, instead of pulling girls in from Girl Scouts, the BSA should be targeting kids not already in a Scouts organization.

“They should be focused in getting all those who are not currently part of Scouts in there rather than creating a feud between the two organizations,” Ramachandran said. “Both are really just trying to reach the same goal and building a better future generation. That really should be the focus.”

Senior Hasini Shyamsundar, a member of Ramachandran’s troop in Girl Scouts, agrees with Ramachandran as she felt that the best idea would be to allow anyone to join either group and not get all worked up about things.

“I think that if boys wanted to join the organization the way it is — without changing it — to kind of make it more inclusive [they should],” Shyamsundar said. “If it’s still an organization about empowering girls and boys want to join, I think that would be really cool.”

With the debate  in mind, Shyamsundar still thinks that the change is good for the Scouts. She agrees with many others — that by focusing on coming together the Scouts can improve as a whole, rather than further politicizing such a polarizing  issue.

“Honestly I really think that people are making this into something a lot bigger than it has to be,” Shyamsundar said. “It’s really just an organization opening its doors to more people. I don’t think it’s necessarily that big [of a deal].”

While it is uncertain what exactly will happen in the near future for the Scouts, one thing is clear — Ho, Shyamsundar and Ramachandran are still just as thankful for all they have experienced in Scouts.

Even with the Boy Scouts changing in a big way, Ho still appreciates everything it has given him. He is looking forward to when people can move on and let everything die down, since he feels that is inevitably what will happen.

“Boy Scouts for me has been a major part of my life – it changed me completely from who I was before,” Ho said. “It has created friendships that would last a lifetime […] I don’t think that would change with Girl Scouts coming in. It would be very different at first, however everybody’s going to get used to it and everything will go back to normal.”

Some have embraced these new changes, seeing it as a step in the right direction, or just the start of more changes to come. Others feel it may mess with a system that was fine that way it was. Ultimately, the Scouts at MVHS can agree on one thing — they should focus on improving the experience for everyone rather than worrying about who should be allowed into which organization.