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Scouts try to go gender neutral… and get sued

... by the Girls Scouts of America

The Boy Scouts of America are dropping the “boy” from their name and allowing female members. The Girl Scouts think that’s damaging their brand.

What it means: Scouts, a popular children’s group which involves a lot of running around woods and building campfires, have a slogan -“do a good turn daily”- and a motto: “be prepared”. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) decided last year that their good turn would be to allow girls to join their group. Ironically, they don’t seem to have been super prepared for the humongous backlash that followed, which has ended up with a lawsuit from the Girl Scouts of America (GSA).

The beef seems to be less about gender and more about what is essentially a business rivalry. GSA thinks that BSA is just trying to poach their members in order to reverse a decline in BSA membership (there are about a third fewer American Boy Scouts now than in 2000). And the GSA lawsuit says it’s the only group with the legal right to use “Scout trademarks with leadership development services for girls”. (Trademarks, FYI, are any symbols or words that companies have legally called dibs on.)

If girls did abandon the GSA in droves, would it matter? It certainly might leave some of the GSA staff out of a job and out of a nice paypacket (their CEO makes $400,000 a year). But a more serious issue is what it could do for gender equality. Some people say that refusing to treat male and female children differently like the BSA is doing is a good way to create future business leaders who don’t judge someone’s ability to do a job on their gender alone. But others think that in a world where women still have fewer opportunities than men, female only spaces are important for encouraging women’s growth and development.


Read our explainers on economic inequality and the gender pay gap.  

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Reader Comments

  • RW

    Your right to a degree. You mentioned “the wandering Jew”.

    I elaborate that the Jewish people, historically have tended to migrate almost exclusively to locations that are economically and culturally vibrant already. I would speculate that Jews have thrived in these places and have often improved the bounds of their economies and knowledge base.

    You can also ask; how many massive entertainment conglomerates, Nobel winners or billionaires has Isreal developed? If Jews are so capable, why isn’t Tel Aviv the Rome of our time?

    Jews are successful because they value education, maintain a strong social cohesive, they actively monitor and have a good sense for Zeitgeist wherever they are and they carefully choose the places they settle and congregate themselves heavily in these choice locations.

    But most importantly (haulocaust increased the importance of this aspect), they actually designed their culture for success. They not only attend Harvard, they use what they learned to better the group as a whole. With as much, they studied intricate networking systems, adapted to it and in many cases improved upon them. (See how Japan acquired Aegis warships and made them better).

    Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this. It’s when you elaborately gain disproportionate power in any society where you would stand out, you must take care when attempting to make a society better (Civil Rights movement) and rewriting that society all together (mass immigration). Ask blacks in China, Mexico, Philippines or India how much opportunity they have? Go to businesses owned by their American diaspora and see how many blacks they hire. Go to Silicon Valley and see how many East or South Asian tech workers wish they could work with more black people. California might work as a state, but as a nation, I think your rolling the nuclear dice here. I hope we can succeed as a tolerant pluralistic superpower but at this stage in human societal development, it’s a pipe dream.

    And if Jews really are the icon for success, they would see that fundamental human successes happen over generations. Just look at the rest of the planet? Are we ready?