Commentary

Why Not High School Boys in Girl Scouts?

Scott Hogenson
By Scott Hogenson | October 12, 2017 | 11:46 AM EDT

Girl Scouts from Lighthouse Service Unit of Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio carry the international flags into Black River Landing Friday night to officially kick off the Lorain International Festival bazaar. Leading the way are Tejah Whitfield, 10, carrying the American flag; Christine Parker, 17, carrying the Ohio flag; and Mia Baker, 11, carrying the Lorain International flag. (Wikimedia Commons Photo/Rona Proudfoot)

A group of high school students from Gary, Indiana is suing the Girl Scouts for not admitting teenage boys to a local troop.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis Tuesday, asks the court to allow five boys, ages 15 and 16, to join a local Girl Scout troop and to find the organization's membership policies discriminatory, calling the girls-only policy "one that arbitrarily, capriciously and unconstitutionally excludes persons based solely on an innate characteristic – their sex."

About 2.8 million girls between the ages of five and 17 belong to the Girl Scouts and its associated organizations, according to Girl Scouts of the USA.

"The hate and discrimination displayed by the Girl Scouts' deliberate exclusion of teenage boys is a travesty that needs to stop now," said Clarence Knustler, attorney for the boys. "The claim that discriminating is essential to their ability to convey what they want to convey to their members is appalling."

One of the boys named as a plaintiff in the suit, 16-year-old Kyle Nadler, said the lawsuit boiled down to a question of freedom of association.

"I just figured joining the Girl Scouts would be a good way to, you know, meet some chicks and all," said Nadler, a junior at Lew Wallace High School in Gary. "I'm thinking if I can join now, I'd probably meet some babes in time for prom."

Similar sentiments were expressed by 15-year-old Derrick Baldwin, another plaintiff who also attends Lew Wallace High. "It's hard to meet cool chicks who are, like, in to fire and stuff, so joining the Girl Scouts would be the bomb," said Baldwin. "I mean, what's the big deal about scouting for a babe who digs me? Get it?"

"Besides," said Baldwin, "Samoas rule."

Girl Scouts of the USA spokesperson Helen Rao said the group wants to keep teenage boys out of the organization because "the introduction of an adolescent, male-female dynamic into Girl Scouting would be counter-productive to our mission and place our girls in a potentially difficult situation."

According to Rao, scout leaders and some parents have voiced fears that allowing teenage boys to join the Girl Scouts might result in "unwanted advances and inappropriate liaisons," between scouts, undermining the mission of the group.

But Knustler discounted the notion that allowing teenage boys to join the Girls Scouts might lead to sexual activity among scouts. "This is just such an outrageous smear," said Knustler. "It's this sort of extremist stereotyping that causes so many problems for so many teenage boys."

Instead, Knustler argued that the Girls Scouts should open its membership to teenage boys "as a demonstration of their commitment to diversity and a repudiation of bigoted conservatism," and that the inclusion of boys would only help the Girl Scouts with their various
philanthropic activities.

Knustler also noted that adult male volunteers are allowed to participate in Girl Scout activities, and said denying membership to teenage boys "smacks of age discrimination."

Juliet Low, the leader of Girl Scout Troop 327 in Gary, Ind., expressed concerns that adding teenage boys to her troop might compel parents to pull their daughters out of the program.

"Parents look to us for safe guidance and supervision of their daughters," said Low. "To include teenage boys in our camping and nature activities would trigger a negative response from moms and dads who don't want their girls possibly facing the advances of boys."

According to Low, the "natural inclinations and orientation," of teenage boys would "unnecessarily place our girls at risk of getting into an unwanted situation. We have an obligation to keep these girls out of situations where they might get into trouble."

But Nadler said Low's argument was moot because teenage boys and girls would invariably "hook up" regardless of whether he and other boys gained admission to the Girl Scouts.

"If a chick's got the hots for me, I'm down with that," said Nadler. "It's not, like, a question of 'if,' it's a question of 'when.' This just kind of makes the whole hooking-up thing so much cooler."

Nadler and his fellow plaintiffs found support from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which is reviewing the boys' lawsuit and may bolster their case through "friend of the court" briefings.

"The co-mingling of young boys and girls in remote, loosely-supervised situations is a healthy and natural part of becoming a productive adult member of society," said Planned Parenthood Deputy Communications Director Delores Iudicap. "We strongly encourage teenagers to seek and find opportunities to interrelate with each other, without adult intrusion, as part of their personal growth."

Scott Hogenson is a Puget Sound-area public relations consultant and was founding editor of CNSNews.com.

Editor’s Note: Not to be confused with the realities of today’s world, this piece is a satire piece that was originally written and published in 2002.


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