Last month, five Girl Scouts, ages 10 to 13, stood before a panel of Boy Scout leaders in Santa Rosa, California, and declared, “We want to be Boy Scouts,” and asked to be formally recognized as such.
For a group of five Northern California girls who call themselves The Unicorns, being a Girl Scout is no longer adequate. No, they want to be part of the 105-year old, all-male organization. The group is led by the mother of one of the girls.
The Boy Scouts organization was both diplomatic and unequivocal in their response to The Unicorns.
“We understand that the values and the lessons of scouting are attractive to the entire family,” the national organization wrote in an email to reporters about the issue, according to the New York Times. “However, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are year-round programs for boys and young men.”
Note the key words there: boys and young men.
The Unicorns began thinking of themselves as Boy Scouts early this fall, after participating in a skills-building course called Learning for Life, which is open to both boys and girls in scouting. After completing the skills course, the girls reported feeling the Girl Scouts were “too sedate,” according to the Times, and began hiking alongside Boy Scout troops and mimicking the uniforms worn by the boys.
But dressing like a Boy Scout and hiking next to a Boy Scout doesn’t make you a Boy Scout.
“I don’t wish to discredit these girls, but Girl Scout troops are in fact led by what the girls themselves want to do, so I’m not sure what the issue in this case is,” Tricia Mellor, New Hampshire CEO of the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, told LifeZette.
“As long as there is a trained leader with them and the safety aspects have been addressed, we are open to anything the girls want to do. Our troops have a Canoe Racing Team, we ice-climb, hike, snow-shoe; we do orienteering, and all types of outdoor adventures.”
A spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of Northern California shared Mellor’s sentiments.
“Outdoor experience has really always been a hallmark of what we do,” Nikki Van Ausdall told the Times. “If they want to come back to join us, we’re thrilled to have them.”
Blurring the Gender Lines
“What’s wrong with there being some things for girls and some things for boys?” said one Boston-area teen who has participated in scouting in the past. “These girls are making it way harder than it needs to be — just look for another troop that does more adventurous things!”
But no, one of The Unicorns already disagreed with that sentiment.
“Because we’re girls we can’t participate with the boys?” Ella Jacobs, 10, told the Times. “When we get into the real world, we are going to have to work with other people who are, like, not just girls.”
“They may be missing the entire point here,” Mellor said of The Unicorns’ quest. “In Girl Scouts, we are proud of teaching girls to lead and make a difference – not give up when presented with a problem or obstacle. I’m sure these Unicorns are free to begin another, more adventurous troop within the Girl Scouts, or join another troop.”
This fall, top Boy Scout officials were contacted about girls invading the Boy Scouts’ campouts and competitions. Some parents are alarmed at the prospect of tent-sharing and about the interruption of the boys-only time that the Boy Scouts provide.
If the Unicorns wanted to do more camping, they’d work to change the Girl Scouts, not transform the Boy Scouts. https://t.co/6MGQi5ecnk
— PragerU (@prageru) November 24, 2015
“I have sons,” Jennifer Masterson, 54, a scout leader in Northern California told the Times. “Would I want a girl sleeping in my son’s tent? No.”
A Transgender Issue?
Mellor disagrees with placing The Unicorns’ quest in the same arena as transgender rights issues, which The Unicorns have done, citing shifting attitudes on gender-related issues.
Not so fast, Mellor said.
“This is different than any transgender issue,” she told LifeZette. “This is about learning to lead and make a difference. I’d hate to see these girls miss out on all the Girl Scouts offer.”
Although the Boy Scouts have recently changed its rules to admit gay members, the scout leaders on the panel The Unicorns spoke before was resolute about female admittance.
As a former Girl Scout I don't get this. We did camping, hiking, canoeing. These girls should start their own troop. https://t.co/TCPbeUdXn4
— Grace Rauh (@gracerauh) November 24, 2015
“The rules and regulations, the by-laws, don’t allow that,” Rodney Mangus, an area Scout leader, told the Times. The panel did tell The Unicorns their request would be forwarded to the national office.
The Unicorns will no doubt keep pressing their case with the Boy Scouts.
No word yet on whether Unicorn cookies may be in America’s future.