Girl Scouts in the News
June 20, 2017 12:54 PM   Subscribe

On a regular basis, I hear a story about a girl scout or her troop, doing something for the community with larger, positive social implications. Or, how a girl scout and her friends have managed to get a bill introduced in state legislation (Today, a GS troop in Oregon got bi-partisan support for a bill to prevent animals and children from dying in hot cars).

Meanwhile, the only thing I hear about the Boy Scouts, other than the occasional story about an Eagle Scout, is how the organization as a whole continues to fight against the admission of gays. Why does there seem to be this contrast? Am I missing news the Boy Scouts are doing on the same level of the Girl Scouts? Is the Boy Scout organization just more narrowly focused?
posted by CollectiveMind to Society & Culture (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Depends on your paper and area. My hometown paper in NJ runs about an equal number of stories about local troops for both organizations.
posted by raccoon409 at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2017

One part may be the varying requirements for the Gold Award (the highest award for Girl Scouts) and for becoming an Eagle Scout, part of which requires doing an Eagle Scout Project. The Gold Award has a requirement of project that has lasting, sustained impact.

Eagle Scouts projects can, and often do, meet that requirement, but Gold Award projects have to, and that can, e.g., take the form of lobbying state legislatures to change laws. The child marriage bill in New Hampshire that got introduced is one example of this happening: the Girl Scout involved was working on her Gold Award.
posted by damayanti at 1:51 PM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

As the parent of both a former Boy Scout and Girl Scout, I'm going to say the local GS leaders just tend to be better at public relations. I don't know if it's something in their training, or something about the fact that most GS leaders are women, and most BS leaders are men. But the Girl Scout leaders are generally much more likely to let the local paper know what the troop is up to.
posted by COD at 1:54 PM on June 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

They've been largely discrete organizations since they were founded, and there's really no definitive answer, but some of possible explanations are that the main founder of the Boy Scouts (the origins are kind of muddy) was kind of a fascist, whereas Juliette Gordon Lowe seemed to be less so.

And there's also this, quoted from the last link:

Many competing organizations for girls that claimed to be the closest model to Boy Scouting were forming, and Gordon Low believed that gaining support from prominent people would help legitimize her organization as the official sister organization to the Boy Scouts. Her biggest competition was the Camp Fire Girls, which was formed in part by James E. West, the Chief Executive of the Boy Scouts of America and a strong proponent of strict gender roles.[52] In March 1912, Gordon Low wrote to the Camp Fire Girls inviting them to merge into the Girl Guides, but they declined even after Baden-Powell suggested that they reconsider.[53] West considered many of the activities that the Girl Guides participated in to be gender-inappropriate, and he was concerned that the public would question the masculinity of the Boy Scouts if they participated in similar activities.[52]

So the Girl Scouts, in advocating independence and teaching traditionally masculine skills to girls, have always been relatively progressive, especially compared to the Boy Scouts.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:04 PM on June 20, 2017 [4 favorites]

It's interesting that you say this; I'm a Girl Scout leader, an in various on-line groups we talk a lot about how Girl Scouts don't get the same recognition as Boy Scouts do (except for all the articles about girls selling cookies outside of marijuana stores). I wonder how much of this is confirmation bias, for both of us.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:26 PM on June 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

I feel like the corpse in the library - I tend to see lots of stories about Eagle Scout projects, and a lot of people seem to have some idea what an Eagle Scout is, whereas I see very few things about Gold Award projects and many people have never heard of Gold Award and don't realize it's harder to get than Eagle (it is).
posted by Miko at 9:43 PM on June 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

They have completely different histories as organizations. Back when lots of single-sex clubs were merging to be mixed-sex, the Girl Scouts declined. Girls Scout leadership has generally been allied with access to information and to reproductive health care. Also feminism, basic principles of equality. I'm sure they've fucked it up at times. But the Boy Scouts as an organization has historically been aligned with conservative and anti-gay networks.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 12:00 AM on June 21, 2017

Following on Claudia Center's thoughts, the GS has also just been very committed to staying up-to-date. The program has kept pace with the times - it focuses on career exploration, health, self-development, empowerment, contemporary skills, community service, modern/urban life, social justice, financial literacy, business planning, etc -- as much as outdoor skills, etc. The Boy Scouting achievement program has a pretty strong focus on more, er, rustic skills, for the most part (leathercraft, bugling, orienteering, etc.) - many of which are required for Eagle.

Don't get me wrong, GS has the rustic/outdoorsy stuff too, and the BS does have a few more updated badge topics like Game Design, but the program is much wider in focus - so it's probably a lot more likely that Girl Scouts are doing things in the community that are noteworthy and newsworthy.
posted by Miko at 3:00 PM on June 21, 2017

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