Salvo 05.28.2024 5 minutes

Scout’s Honor

A troop of young, Weblo Boy Scouts salute during an America flag ceremony at their camp in Colorado.

After the BSA’s implosion, what comes next?

After 114 years, the Boy Scouts of America has officially changed its name to “Scouting America.” At a time when young men are receiving the overwhelming message that masculinity is toxic and patriarchy is evil, it’s sad that an organization which once stressed responsibility and preparedness is no longer a uniquely male space.

This change has been anticipated for quite a while, as the organization has been taking large steps to distance itself from its original boys-only brand rooted in the “muscular Christianity” of the Progressive Era. Perhaps the Boy Scouts, with its many sexual abuse scandals, does deserve to die and be replaced by more localized organizations seeking to solve the problems of our time rather than concede principles when under pressure.

Roger A. Krone, president and chief executive of the new Scouting America, said in a statement that the name change is “a simple but very important evolution as we seek to ensure that everyone feels welcome in Scouting.” Creating an organization that is more intentionally targeting and welcoming members who are specifically not boys is a goal the Boy Scouts has been incrementally moving toward for some time. 

Five years ago, the decision was made to allow girls to join Boy Scout troops. In retaliation for undercutting their market, the Girl Scouts launched a lawsuit claiming that the Boy Scouts damaged their recruitment efforts by using words like “scouts” and “scouting.” Even though a judge rejected the lawsuit, the Girl Scouts sent a clear message that the youth organizations are no longer complementary—they are in competition. This spat mirrors the growing political divide between Gen Z men and women around the globe.

The Boy Scouts ended its longtime ban on openly gay Scouts in 2013 and its ban on gay troop leaders in 2015. Two years later, the organization announced that it would allow transgender boys in. This name change is the next logical step to signal that all barriers maintaining a space specifically for boys have fallen.

I’m sympathetic to girls who want to join Boy Scouts. I was a Girl Scout, and although going to Camp Little Cloud in Iowa during the summer was a wonderful, formative experience, the troop didn’t have much to offer during the school year outside of cookie sales.

However, the remedy for lackluster Girl Scout troops isn’t to eliminate activities specifically designated for boys and girls. Instead, the solution lies in enhancing and enriching these activities to better serve the kids participating in them.

Being a girl is uniquely good and special, just as being a boy is uniquely good and special. Creating more opportunities to celebrate the differences between boys and girls should be the task at hand rather than ignoring or papering over them.

This is possibly the worst time for a boy’s-only organization to dissolve considering that the adult male suicide rate is rising, boys are falling well behind on test scores compared to girls, and young men are attending college at lower rates than women. The ever-growing list of academic articles and books are shedding more light on the problems that boys and men are facing. Just to name a few: The War Against BoysThe Boy CrisisMen Without Work: America’s Invisible Crisis, and Of Boys and Men: Why the Modern Male is Struggling, Why It Matters, and What to Do About It. People and book publishers are clearly noticing the need for improved boys’ education. 

New youth-focused organizations should rise up and fill the gap in young men’s education that the Boy Scouts has left. Fathers should take initiative to form new clubs through churches. Schools, especially private schools, could offer their facilities outside of school hours for meetings and carpentry projects.

We should all “Be prepared” to rise to the challenge of communicating to our sons, brothers, and grandsons that masculinity in its many expressions is good and worth cultivating.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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