CON: Modification, not demolition

As the old saying goes, boys will be boys, and after the Boy Scouts of America’s recent announcement, girls may be as well.

Beginning 2018, girls will be allowed to actively join Boy Scout troops and achieve the Eagle Scout rank. The announcement is ostensibly to eliminate the 109-year-old organization’s history of gender discrimination, but there are much better ways to do so.

The announcement only serves to plaster a new façade over the problems facing both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts of the USA. Instead of recruiting girls to join the BSA, the GSUSA should be improved. GSUSA leaders have criticized the decision, claiming the need for single-gender environments to promote leadership development.

“The benefit of the single-gender environment has been well-documented by educators, scholars, other girl- and youth-serving organizations, and Girl Scouts and their families,” the organization said. “Girl Scouts offers a one-of-a-kind experience for girls with a program tailored specifically to their unique developmental needs.”

They are correct. The two organizations must remain separate in order to truly benefit our nation’s youth.

Since girls and boys learn differently, by segregating the two by gender, the programs are better able to cater to each’s specific needs. According to BBC, girls learn better in groups and discussion-based learning while boys tend to take control over in such situations.

By siphoning girls away from the GSUSA, the BSA is brushing its sister organization’s woes even further under the rug and out of sight.

The first step in solving any problem is to acknowledge that there is one, and with a smaller influx of girls into the GSUSA, its issues will be forgotten instead of resolved.

On the other side of the spectrum, accepting girls into the BSA is only covering up a larger problem—Scouting as a whole is in decline, and this slide must be stopped.

The GSUSA were likely on the mark when its leaders criticized the move as an attempt for more members. The BSA peaked in 1972 with 6.5 million members and has been losing them ever since, reporting only 2.3 million last year, according to CNN.

If the BSA are really that desperate for more members, other measures should be taken.

As an Eagle Scout myself, I watched many of my friends drop out of the Scouting program entirely after reaching high school due to other time commitments. There needs to be a greater incentive for boys to remain in the program other than the Eagle Scout distinction, which will, in turn, increase membership, a better alternative to recruiting girls.

The integration of boys and girls in scouting is detrimental for both sides, and other options must be explored, chiefly the reformation of the GSUSA.