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October 12 2017

More on the Coed Boy Scouts

by Charlotte Hays

Yesterday, when the story broke that the Boy Scouts, an organization that has been promoting good citizenship and virtuous behavior for boys for nearly a century, will in the future accept girls, I blogged that this move sends the wrong message. It seemed to say to the world that single-sex institutions are never okay, and that is bad for both girls and boys.

The Wall Street Journal this morning takes a slightly more nuanced view of this development. Noting that Boy Scout "dens" will still be separated by sex, the editorial portrays the decision to accept girls as a compromise in the face of progressives clamoring for gender neutral admissions to the Boy Scouts. The editors are not surre that the compromise will be enough to satisfy: 

The unanimous decision by the BSA board may also be a compromise to prevent total gender integration. The group’s statement acknowledged that girls have tried to join for years, and after taking so much abuse for resisting gay scouts until 2013, the group couldn’t want another media or court fight over gender. Earlier this year, it opened membership to transgender boys.

The question is whether progressives will accept any compromise. Lawsuits in the 1990s failed to force the Boy Scouts to change their membership requirements. The California Supreme Court in Randall v. Orange County Council (1998) ruled that the group isn’t a “business establishment” and thus not subject to gender-discrimination laws.

But the progressive movement remains committed to stamping out differences between genders. The Boy Scouts of America was created to instruct boys in how to become—pardon the non-neutral phrase—virtuous men. It’s unlikely the cultural left will accept this “separate but equal” proposal.

Surveying the U.S. in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville noted with admiration the American genius for self-improvement through enthusiastic involvement in church and community organizations. We’re not sure he’d say the same today, which is America’s loss. The Boy Scouts are taking a risk with their gender bender, but for the good of the country we hope they succeed.

This nuanced view from the Journal editors is actually just as critical, or perhaps more so, than mine. It implies that no single-sex organization, even one as famous as the Boy Scouts, can stand its ground and uphold the value of single-sex institutions. But the Journal hopes the compromise works:

Surveying the U.S. in the 1830s, Alexis de Tocqueville noted with admiration the American genius for self-improvement through enthusiastic involvement in church and community organizations. We’re not sure he’d say the same today, which is America’s loss. The Boy Scouts are taking a risk with their gender bender, but for the good of the country we hope they succeed.

It should be noted that the Girls Scouts USA--"usually a paragon of progressive virtue"—see this move as a threat to their organization.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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