In the latest of high-profile moves to open up its membership, the Boy Scouts of America announced this week that it would allow girls and young women to participate in more of its programming. Many see this as a big step forward for girls; another wall keeping young women from certain opportunities has fallen. And for some young women, the chance to participate in Boy Scouting programs will give them a chance to pursue their goals in exciting ways. But the new policy isn’t a straightforward win for girls.
Initial reports on the Boy Scouts’ policy indicate that small groups for young members (known in the Boy Scouts as Cub Scout dens) will continue to be single gender, so girls will still have access to leadership opportunities in a single-gender environment. But there’s a difference between being in a girl-led group within a larger entity whose entire history and mission has been about serving boys and being part of an organization like the Girl Scouts whose central focus has always been on building “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” Even with careful research and preparation, Boy Scouts’ efforts to serve girls in single-gender groups will still be built on a long legacy of focusing on boys’ needs. Everything meant to serve girls specifically will be an adjustment, not the default, central focus. Will a Boy Scouts’ program meant to introduce girls to public service, for example, take the same careful steps to make sure young women meet female elected officials, like one in which I participated as a Girl Scout in high school?
It’s not just that opening up the Boy Scouts to girls has the potential to move girls out of a girl-led, girl-centered organization. Even for girls who aren’t currently participating in Girl Scouts, the move sends a troubling message: You can do more as a girl in a boys’ organization than you can as a girl in a girls’ organization. We already use what boys achieve in Boy Scouts as our point of reference for what girls accomplish in Girl Scouts because the former is more familiar to the broader public than the latter. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of the Girl Scouts’ highest honor, the Gold Award. Proponents of the Boy Scouts’ policy change have emphasized girls’ newfound ability to earn Eagle Scout rank as one of the most exciting things about opening up aspects of Boy Scouting to girls. Colleges and prospective employers, they argue, understand the work it takes to become an Eagle Scout and see young men who have earned the Eagle Scout rank as attractive candidates.
They’re not wrong. Achieving Eagle Scout status is a significant accomplishment, and the young men who earn it deserve the respect they get. And yes, the Eagle Scout rank is far more familiar to many Americans than the Gold Award. Indeed, I’ve spent the last 15 years explaining my Girl Scout Gold Award to friends, colleagues and prospective employers as the “Girl Scout version” of the Eagle Scout rank. But the solution to that imbalance shouldn’t be telling girls to abandon their Girl Scout troops to go after the boys’ honor. It should be giving the girls’ achievement — which requires working hard to build the same skills we celebrate so publicly in Eagle Scouts — the respect it deserves.
By telling young women that they need to earn Eagle Scout rank to get the recognition and benefits it conveys, we are sending a crystal-clear message: To get the respect you deserve for your achievements, you have to join a historically male-oriented organization and meet that group’s definition of success. Putting in the hard work to make a difference in your community as part of a girl-centered organization just isn’t enough.
I recognize that there are girls and families for whom the Girl Scouting programs in their communities don’t meet their needs. For older girls, existing coed Boy Scout programs can and do help address those shortfalls. I know, because I also participated in one of those programs, Venturing, as a high school student in part to pursue activities beyond what my Girl Scout troop was offering. I applaud the activism of the young women who have been pushing for the policy change. Even if they find that Girl Scouts don’t meet their needs, identifying what you see as a problem in the world and working to change it is exactly what Girl Scouting teaches, and I hope they find fulfilling experiences in the new Boy Scouting programs. But the Boy Scouts’ policy change isn’t just about the opportunities it creates for individual girls. It’s about what we convey to young women about their achievements and the context in which they pursue them — that they are less valuable, simply because they weren’t designed by men.
Thank you, Magic Valley! The outpouring of donations from our community was overwhelming and makes us proud to be a part of our caring and generous Magic Valley. The semi truck was filled to the brim of needed supplies for the hurricane victims in Florida from cheerful, giving individuals and businesses. The door of the truck was closed after topping off the back of the semi with four pallets of Idaho Potatoes donated by Eagle Eye Produce. Jerry McKean, driver of the truck left for Florida yesterday (Monday) morning and plans to arrive the SOS Foundation in Stock Island Key, Fla., by Thursday where delivery trucks will distribute these donated supplies to over 30 disaster relief sites working in the Hurricane Irma disaster region.
The “Fill a Truck 4 Florida” event was organized by volunteers at the Lighthouse Youth and Friendship Ministry which serves adults with intellectual disabilities in the Magic Valley.
If it were a plague, the government would rush to quarantine the infected, as occurred during Europe’s Black Death in the 14th century.
An immigration debate at Seattle University School of Law is a plague of a different sort, but deadly in a different way. The victim here is the right to free speech.
The Washington Free Beacon reports that Annette Clark, the dean of Seattle University’s Law School, has revoked the school’s sponsorship of a Federalist Society event. The reason? The proposed debate on immigration, hosted by the school’s Access to Justice Institute, might be “harmful” to minority students and “undocumented immigrants,” aka people who broke the law to get to America, though we are not supposed to talk like that these days.
At first I thought it was a joke. It is. But a joke played on those elites who claim to believe in tolerance, academic freedom and inclusion. Dean Clark’s edict reflects her and the school’s intolerance, academic propaganda and exclusion of any view that does not conform to the university’s imposed ideology. Isn’t this the stuff of re-education camps and gulags?
Many college campuses claim devotion to diversity, while practicing and imposing conformity. To them, diversity has to do with skin color, ethnicity and sexual orientation. It is secular liberalism dressed up in different garb. Real diversity would include people of different opinions.
At Seattle U’s Law School, the Federalist Society, a conservative organization that believes in an originalist view of the Constitution, was preparing for an immigration debate. The last I checked a debate is supposed to include opposing points of view. The purpose of a debate is to inform people so they can decide which view is superior to the other. In the ‘80s, these were the kinds of debates in which I participated on many college campuses. With only a few exceptions I was granted a respectful hearing, as was my debate opponent. Often we would attend a dinner before the debate, or a reception afterward, where students and faculty could observe us interacting with decorum, humor and mutual respect.
Invitations to college campuses began disappearing in the ‘90s and I haven’t had any since. The stories of high-profile speakers being denied the right to speak or shouted down and demonstrated against should they actually make it onto a campus are legion.
The kind of censorship practiced in Seattle is not unique to that school either. It is trending across the country. Increasingly, campuses have become “safe spaces” so that “snowflakes” will not be troubled by ideas that rattle their still developing brains, which should, instead of stagnating, constantly evolve. If they think they already know everything, why spend time and money going to college?
The greater question is this: Why do so many parents, especially conservative parents, send their children to schools that undermine their faith and values, distort history and promote causes that will not help them get a job once they graduate? A corollary question: Why do students take on so much debt to attend universities where their “consciences” might be raised on the liberal side, but where they are shielded from what real life looks like?
Nat Hentoff, the late liberal journalist and social critic, said the answer to speech you don’t like is not less speech, but more speech. The students at Seattle Law School are being denied a well-rounded education by the speech and thought police. Students should demand that a portion of their tuition be refunded and the federal government should consider denying tax subsidies to institutions of “higher learning” that practice censorship.