Girls in the BSA
Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, Patrick Sterrett’s new boss, made these remarks the day after the vote to go co-ed. Surbaugh is a good speaker and worth a listen.
It is too bad these types of posts did not precede the vote.
You may have heard, but all programs will be co-ed by January 1, 2019. Cub Scouts start, as I read it, June 1, 2018.
Here is the announcement from CAC Council Commissioner Ron Penczek:
I wanted to take a moment to forward on to you official communications from our National Council regarding girls in Cub and Boy Scouting. While it is too late for my girls to stand beside their brother in earning Eagle Scout, I am very excited to bring our program of citizenship, leadership and fitness to girls around the country, I hope you are as excited as me. I know for some Scouters, this change will be concerning and their concerns are not without merit, but as a Commissioner Corps, I am sure we can help deliver a positive message. We can be the agent of change that helps everyone to see the benefits of such a change and help implement such change in a positive way.
Please cascade this to your District and Unit Commissioners and begin talking with your units about this change.
I look forward to talking with you next week.
BSA Expands Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts Programs to Welcome Girls
The BSA’s board of directors has unanimously approved welcoming girls into our Cub Scouts program and delivering a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls. The BSA evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders — as well as parents and girls who have never been involved in Scouting — to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.
Linked below (or attached) are a few resources to help you learn more about today’s decision, as well as respond to any inquiries you may receive. As always, please direct all media queries to firstname.lastname@example.org:
Is this old article from the New York Times a study in how many things can one writer get wrong in one article? Or is it a study in modern psychology?
As most of my readers know by now, I don’t look at the world through pop psychology or the buzzwords of the day from the media.
So I will start with the principle that we need to digest this type of article with care and precision.
This article presents many conflicting issues with the Journalism 101 principle that all serious analyses need to have a personal story to make the reading tolerable. (They would say “interesting,” but I find so little journalism interesting. To me, journalism is often a study in formulaic writing. But I digress.) So, the main point of what happens to boys in their emotional development gets interrupted by a boy getting an injection, a vignette from a College Honors class, a lecture by a professor with a wayward frat-boy interlocutor, an interview with a researcher, and class offerings now available in Men’s Studies. Let’s put all those wandering digressions aside.
The article tries to make the point that boys to age 5 are more emotive than same-aged girls. These boys are more socially oriented than same-aged girls. The boys develop deep emotional bonds easily and regularly.
The article claims that by puberty we socialize this emotive personality out of them. This claim of socializing out emotiveness has utterly no academic support in the article. It is merely asserted as gospel truth. I question the validity of the claim. As I am growing persuaded that Karl Popper’s theory of science is true (i.e., science exists in only two places (1) hypotheses already proven false, like the 4 humors approach to medicine, and (2) hypotheses stated in a manner that can be found to be false through experimentation or observation), mere assertions don’t persuade me much.
Despite my doubts, the rest of the article is built on how to resolve this asserted problem that we are socializing out boys’ ability to handle emotions.
Hannah Arendt, a 20th century philosopher of whom I have only recently learned, suggested that violence in society rises when bureaucracy grows, due to fewer means of being able to successfully petition for relief from problems. Violence is seen as the only outlet.
If Arendt is correct, a reasonable corrollary is that humans funneled into unfulfilling avenues of life foster behavior that rebels against the funneling.
So, let’s imagine a boy in middle school on the morning of father visits. He is sitting in class listening to a female teacher talk about the Diary of Anne Frank. The teacher asks about the relationships and feelings of the different persons in the story. The boy tunes out. All the boys around him tune out. The fathers all reach for their cell phones (I resisted only by whispering to the father next to me to share in my observation). The girls gleefully raised their hands and participated. The teacher had to pull teeth to engage the boys. These boys were being funneled into a terribly boring presentation that connected with 0% of the male population in the room with nearly 20 male subjects and 50% of the 10 female subjects.
At the Council’s mid-year meeting for District Key 3 (District Chair, Commissioner, and Executives), a topic that is getting mixed amount of attention was brought up. The issue was “should girls be admitted to packs and troops?”
I did a quick search online in the hopes of determining how much social media there is on the topic. I found these articles as a sampling:
- Bryan on Scouting (2015 to present) has a long-standing forum on the topic.
- NPR, “Girl who Wants to be a Boy Scout” (April 29, 2017).
- Change.org (date unclear). (Girl wants to be an Eagle Scout. Seems to be source of NPR story). 75% to 10,000 signer goal.
- Patheos and NBC News (May, 2017) (describing National Council scheduled debate on topic).
- Outside Online
- Detroit Free Press (February 2017) (good background on current status of debate).
There are many more, but I would not call it a crushingly large amount of recent publications. Now I may have found more if I would have varied my search terms, but all other things being equal, it is not a PR onslaught.
That has some advantages to have having a conversation on the topic. There is less heat, so tempers may not run as hot.
Patrick Sterrett in mentioning this treated as if this is a beginning to a longer conversation for the National Council. He solicited our feedback and invited interested persons to talk to him directly. Patrick is a very open person, so he would enjoy a face-to-face conversation with any interested persons.
Our District Chair John Wiebke is in a unique position. He grew up going to Camp Kikthaweneund, getting his Eagle along the way. He served on staff at Philmont and the International Scout Centre in Konderstag, Switzerland (the Philmont of the Worldwide Scouting Movement). He also served as a scout leader in the Swedish Scout Federation for 13 years. After those experiences, he returned to Indiana and served as the Scoutmaster for Troop 358 for three years. In those different capacities, he has been witness to all types of scouts, single-sex units, and co-ed units.
Part of the impetus to this conversation is that Scouting worldwide is now co-ed, except in the USA and some Muslim countries. The UK went co-ed several decades ago. Scouts Canada did more recently.
After the discussion that Patrick led, I asked John some questions about his experiences and shared some of my concerns. I don’t know that either led me to a clear answer.
Most feedback I have heard from parents of daughters is that the Girl Scouts USA has a program that does not offer the same challenges for girls that Venturing does. Having no daughter nor personal involvement with Girl Scouts USA, I can only listen to these comments.
I would recommend that all units have this issue put to their unit committees and their Chartered Organization in the next several months. You can then share the feedback that you hear with your Unit Commissioner or District Committee Member.
The one goal for me is that this issue of membership is handled more patiently and more respectfully that the last several rounds have. Scouting should always be looking to serve its current members better while looking to serve the community-at-large better, too.
A debate and conversation worthy of the Scout Law is definitely serving all parties well.
NOTES ON COMMENTS: Anyone in North Star or the Crossroads of America Council, especially girl members of a Venturing Crew or Explorer Post, are encouraged to send their thoughts to me. If the comments comply with the Scout Law, we can post them. Even better, comment below. If a commentator is from outside Crossroads of America Council, we reserve the right to refrain from posting the comments. This is a website for scouting in the Council, especially North Star Distict, and not a newspaper.