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Push for Coed Scouting

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FWIW, the only youth I've met who has read (a translation of) Scouting for Boys cover-to-cover is my female exchange student from Italy.

Edited by qwazse

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FWIW, the only youth I've met who has read (a translation of) Scouting for Boys cover-to-cover is my female exchange student from Italy.

Did she think it was a guide to finding boys?

 

Good for her. I would have found it too dry as a teenager.

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Did she think it was a guide to finding boys?

 

Good for her. I would have found it too dry as a teenager.

I don't think the pun translates ... Scautismo per ragazzi ... I'll leave that to the linguists.

She said she read everything on her SM's shelf in advance of coming to the U.S.

Fortunately, she landed in one of the few neighborhoods in this district with an active crew.

However, I would not put it past us, if the crew did not exist, to let her hang out at troop meetings ... membership standards notwithstanding.

 

How would you all respond to an female international student -- registered as a scout in her home country -- knocking at your troop's door?

Edited by qwazse

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Quite simple on that one. Scouting for Boys was written and the Scout and Guide movements started in Edwardian England. The idea that men and women would have the same rights, the same lives, the same social position as each other was unthinkable. The idea that men and women could have purely pleutonic relationships was also unthinkable, boys and girls mixing together would have been considered immoral. It was only a few years after the death of Queen Victoria and before the First World War swept away pretty much every social norm this country previously had.

 

I don't know want it did to the USA but it is difficult to under estimate the effect of the First World War on the UK and Europe. Forget the changes to national borders, I'm talking about the social changes. It led directly to votes for women, to women having jobs beyond the menial, to better education standards, to vastly better housing for the working classes, to the questioning by the ordinary man and woman of those considered their better. And the job the First World War started was finished off spectacularly by the Second World War.

 

As suggested by others, the separation of boys and girls in the early days of scouting simply represented societal norms of 110 years ago.

 

The facts unfortunately don't bear that supposition out very well.  In the history of England, Scotland had co-education in the schools in the early 1800's and showed in the one room schools of America from early on.  Churches started (in England) mixed schools as early as the late 1700's.  I would find it very difficult for the Edwardian era to really believe that co-ed in the educational and religious world would be considered "immoral".

 

Yes there was a social transformation in the early 20th century on the role of females, but separate school options were still available until the late 20th century.  Social activities were and still are separated in the areas of sports and social clubs.  The WGAAAS is still going strong separated and yet male societies are attacked.  This bias may have begun 100 years ago, but it still continues today because the bulk of society resists it's influence as seen by the number of legal challenges.  No one is assailing the all female institutes as they are the male institutions and this option of mixed vs separate has been going on for 200 years.  Today's society seems to be hell-bent on removing the separation option which has always been there. 

 

In a free society that champions personal choice, removing choices from their citizens is not a step in the right direction, never has and will not go away until it becomes illegal to make that choice.  Thus the society will no longer be able to have such freedoms.    Culturally/Socially today the female has more freedom in this area than males.  This is not equality in any sense of the word.

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From an infrastructure perspective, Scouting is not geared for a wholesale change to its membership. It is hard enough to find female facilities at most council camps. They are not like Philmont where there are sex-based flush toilets and showers. Most camps are trap toilets and cold showers...many still communal showers. Camps would either have to build more facilities OR they'd have to time-slot shower and toilet usage. Good luck.

 

 

Why are showers and toilets always the big concern about this? And why is it always brought up as if the BSA has no concept of how to handle facilities for a 2nd gender already? Every place I ever camped as a kid in scouts had female facilities and summer camps always had some female staff members. They made it work, and that was 20+ years ago. I'm sure today is no worse, and if anything I know at least one summer camp from back then has indeed upgraded their facilities and included more female accommodations. 

 

If I'm glancing through this forum and trying to get a sense for the arguments against co-ed, it looks like it boils down to boys need a place to be boys, maintain heritage, and toilets. I'm sorry but that's extremely weak. And if it's heritage, we've already burned that bridge decades ago. BP would be spinning in his grave to see how far away from "traditional scouting" we've come and include so many merit badges that have nothing to do with his founding principles and ideals. 

 

So one has to ask: Why MUST we open Boy Scouts? Is it for Eagle? Is it for something else?

 

It's not a "must", it's a benefit. In my opinion it comes down to a few key things:

 

Societal norms - Gender segregation is a thing of the past in nearly all walks of life. Men aren't exclusively the top of the corporate ladder anymore, our military is co-ed, few (if any) schools remain that separate kids by gender, gender equality in all forms of adult life is the new norm. I think we should be raising our kids to learn to succeed within that system, not within the century-old paradigm of gender segregation.

 

Membership - How long does the BSA survive at the current pace of membership decline? Based on recent years and numbers lost in those years, we've got 20 years at most. If going co-ed can do for us what it did for Scouts UK, I think it's well worth it to secure the long-term future of scouting in the US. 

 

Opportunity - Girls should have the same opportunities to experience scouting and benefit from it, and let's face it, GSUSA doesn't provide a comparable program. If they did, we wouldn't be having this discussion and girls wouldn't be trying so hard to get into the BSA. Everyone knows this, even non-Scouters, and it's also why the top rank in GS doesn't get the same respect as the top rank in BSA. 

 

Heritage - Baden-Powell wrote and said a lot about how he viewed the world in his time, and how we should act as scouts and leaders. Some of it is certainly still valid today, some is not. Our obligation to the heritage of scouting isn't to abide by his teachings exactly as they were, but to take them and adapt them to modern society and adjust them over time as we learn how to do things better. We don't stick to early 1900s first aid methods because we know better now. We don't judge people on the shape of their face (BP said we could judge a man's character that way). We do a lot of things differently today because we've got 100+ years of life lessons and experiences to add to BP's teachings. I view it as honoring our heritage to alter the program as needed over time. To cling to the old teachings as gospel, frankly I think BP himself would oppose that. 

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The facts unfortunately don't bear that supposition out very well.  In the history of England, Scotland had co-education in the schools in the early 1800's and showed in the one room schools of America from early on.  Churches started (in England) mixed schools as early as the late 1700's.  I would find it very difficult for the Edwardian era to really believe that co-ed in the educational and religious world would be considered "immoral".

 

Yes there was a social transformation in the early 20th century on the role of females, but separate school options were still available until the late 20th century.  Social activities were and still are separated in the areas of sports and social clubs.  The WGAAAS is still going strong separated and yet male societies are attacked.  This bias may have begun 100 years ago, but it still continues today because the bulk of society resists it's influence as seen by the number of legal challenges.  No one is assailing the all female institutes as they are the male institutions and this option of mixed vs separate has been going on for 200 years.  Today's society seems to be hell-bent on removing the separation option which has always been there. 

 

In a free society that champions personal choice, removing choices from their citizens is not a step in the right direction, never has and will not go away until it becomes illegal to make that choice.  Thus the society will no longer be able to have such freedoms.    Culturally/Socially today the female has more freedom in this area than males.  This is not equality in any sense of the word.

 

What you refer to there is the heavily supervised world that was the basic schooling that most boys and girls got. Typically run by a church in a one room school. Pre First world war maybe till you were 14 at best. In most cases younger. A very different proposition to what scouting was suggesting. Small groups in the outdoors with minimal adult supervision. It just would not have happened. And in those school rooms they were educated as to what to expect of life. Boys to go onto typically working class jobs in steel mills, coal mines and the like. Women to be their wives. If they had a job they may have gone into domestic service or taken in laundry. The idea that they would be educated to be the main bread winner was unthinkable. And the idea that those aged 13, 14 , 15 and above would hang around with the opposite sex? Unthinkable. That was how the UK was.

 

In terms of the separate boys and girls schools, you need to see these in terms of class. Basically the more expensive the school, the more likely to be single sex. These were the public (ie private) schools were originally there to educate the sons and daughters of the upper middle and upper classes. The boys schools were there, in he case of the middle classes, to produce future army officers, surgeons, ;lawyers, engineers. In the case of the upper classes to produce army and navy officers Prime Ministers and the landed gentry. For girls, they were there to produce the wives of those previously mentioned. At best become a primary school teacher or a nurse, until such time as they were married. Then they had to stop work. Yes you can find the pioneering women who got into medicine and the like but few and far between. The vast majority though were there to look pretty and serve their husbands. Ever watched Downton Abbey? (I understand it's been lapped up in the USA!) 90% of it is nonsense but the roles of women compared to men pre First World War? Spot on.

 

Those schools have mainly remained the domain of those with serious money and stayed single sex out of tradition more than anything else. Simple as that.

 

And with all that the idea that you could start sending groups of boys and girls off into the woods to camp together? Utterly preposterous. 

 

In 1907 Britain it would not have happened.

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If it is "as simple as that" why is there such a long running, heated debate still raging on?  One would think that with highly adult supervised co-ed groupings would run counter to the principles of BSA and GS/USA who's goal is not to provide independent development of male and female maturity into adulthood.  Heavily supervised runs contrary to such principles.

 

The BSA has had to go to great lengths to insure the co-ed option, but would not have had to had it remained all-male.  When I went to college in the later half of the 20th century, female dorms did not have urinals.  Now all dorms do, at whose expense did this all happen?  And are the co-ed dorms need more adult supervision?  Rules?

 

Yes, the elite few can have the separation option because of their financial means to be able to buy that freedom,  Those that can't afford it don't have the freedom of choice.

 

I wonder if the demise of the patrol method started with the need for co-ed adult leadership that was mentioned as necessary for a co-ed program.  My buddies and I always had the freedom to choose independent activities because such heavy supervision from adults was not necessary.  Does one think this society is ready for 2-deep male leadership 300' away from an all-male patrol is the same as 2-deep co-ed leadership 300' away from a gender-mixed patrol?  It's easy to see how such freedoms are taken from the program that was once established for a certain goal in mind.

 

The arguments presented for co-ed are duly understood by me.  I am an adult leader for church and community organizations, but while there is a lot of "stuff" floating around about BSA going co-ed, one does not hear any discussions about Big Brother/Little Sister or Big Sister/Little Brother dialog on the table.  Why not?  Where's the legal outcry for these community programs?  And as far as religious organizations, they make no bones about heavy supervision, background checks, and major policy rulings about how they run their programs.  One does not see many men involved in the sewing group, nor do many women attend the men's Bible-study or vice-versa.

 

There are plenty of examples of co-ed and it's advantages, but there just as many examples to support it's disadvantages, and one of the first to go is boy led, patrol method in the BSA.  Ever notice that Venturing is not boy led, patrol method in nature?  There's a reason for that.

Edited by Stosh

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So one has to ask: Why MUST we open Boy Scouts? Is it for Eagle? Is it for something else?

 

100 years ago, there were also men's clubs and women were only allowed to hold a handful of jobs. I'd like to think we have advanced as a society a little bit since then. 

 

Then again, there are countries now where women aren't allowed to go to school or drive a car anymore even though they were allowed to before the ultraconservatives took over. Maybe that is preferable to some. 

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100 years ago, there were also men's clubs and women were only allowed to hold a handful of jobs. I'd like to think we have advanced as a society a little bit since then. 

 

Then again, there are countries now where women aren't allowed to go to school or drive a car anymore even though they were allowed to before the ultraconservatives took over. Maybe that is preferable to some. 

 

Please, let's not be so obtuse as to equate Boy Scouts with a men's club or some Islamic country that forbids women driving or some other backwards idea.

 

As you so keenly point out, back then attitudes were different and the opportunities for women were not there. The DIFFERENCE now is there are plenty of opportunities for women; some of which are female-only. I think that's great!!!! We want more opportunities for women and girls, and if they are female-only, so be it.

 

BSA also has opportunities for girls. Venturing, Varsity, STEM, etc., are all open to girls, so even BSA is not being exclusive or discriminating...though many would have you think they are. They have one group, Boy Scouts, dedicated to boys. So girls, while being excluded from joining Boy Scouts, still have the SAME opportunity for adventure, outdoor program, STEM and other things as they'd have if Boy Scouts was open to girls. They can do everything Boy Scouts can do. Strike that, the can do MORE than Boy Scouts can do...they just cannot get Eagle.

 

So, again, I ask...is this just about opening Eagle to girls? We've given them MORE than what they'd get in Boy Scouts. So why the push to open Boy Scouts?

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If it is "as simple as that" why is there such a long running, heated debate still raging on?  One would think that with highly adult supervised co-ed groupings would run counter to the principles of BSA and GS/USA who's goal is not to provide independent development of male and female maturity into adulthood.  Heavily supervised runs contrary to such principles.

 

The BSA has had to go to great lengths to insure the co-ed option, but would not have had to had it remained all-male.  When I went to college in the later half of the 20th century, female dorms did not have urinals.  Now all dorms do, at whose expense did this all happen?  And are the co-ed dorms need more adult supervision?  Rules?

 

Yes, the elite few can have the separation option because of their financial means to be able to buy that freedom,  Those that can't afford it don't have the freedom of choice.

 

I wonder if the demise of the patrol method started with the need for co-ed adult leadership that was mentioned as necessary for a co-ed program.  My buddies and I always had the freedom to choose independent activities because such heavy supervision from adults was not necessary.  Does one think this society is ready for 2-deep male leadership 300' away from an all-male patrol is the same as 2-deep co-ed leadership 300' away from a gender-mixed patrol?  It's easy to see how such freedoms are taken from the program that was once established for a certain goal in mind.

 

The arguments presented for co-ed are duly understood by me.  I am an adult leader for church and community organizations, but while there is a lot of "stuff" floating around about BSA going co-ed, one does not hear any discussions about Big Brother/Little Sister or Big Sister/Little Brother dialog on the table.  Why not?  Where's the legal outcry for these community programs?  And as far as religious organizations, they make no bones about heavy supervision, background checks, and major policy rulings about how they run their programs.  One does not see many men involved in the sewing group, nor do many women attend the men's Bible-study or vice-versa.

 

There are plenty of examples of co-ed and it's advantages, but there just as many examples to support it's disadvantages, and one of the first to go is boy led, patrol method in the BSA.  Ever notice that Venturing is not boy led, patrol method in nature?  There's a reason for that.

 

Stosh, you misunderstand me.

 

I don't know whether society in USA is ready for teenagers to camp together in the woods with minimal adult supervision. You know the USA far better than I do.

 

What is simple is two things.

 

Firstly that the scout and guide movements started separately because the UK in 1907, the place and time where they began, was not ready for teenage boys and girls to camp together and be seen as having equal standing in society. They were not equal and it took the carnage of two world wars and plenty more to fully change that.

 

Second the private schools in this country were and mostly still are single sex because it worked for the purposes for which they were founded and once you have big institutions steeped in money and tradition and mostly patronised by those with serious money it takes an awful lot to change them.

 

The answer to whether BSA should be coed lies in the USA in the 21st century, not in scouting's origins in the early 20th century in north west Europe.

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I don't know whether society in USA is ready for teenagers to camp together in the woods with minimal adult supervision. You know the USA far better than I do.

The answer to whether BSA should be coed lies in the USA in the 21st century, not in scouting's origins in the early 20th century in north west Europe.

 

We have this already. It's called Venturing.

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I think I've said pretty much all I have to say in this discussion, but let's please get our facts straight:

 

Venturing, Varsity, STEM, etc., are all open to girls...

Varsity Scouts is only open to boys.

 

They have one group, Boy Scouts, dedicated to boys.

Actually two, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

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BSA also has opportunities for girls. Venturing, Varsity, STEM, etc., are all open to girls, so even BSA is not being exclusive or discriminating...though many would have you think they are. They have one group, Boy Scouts, dedicated to boys. So girls, while being excluded from joining Boy Scouts, still have the SAME opportunity for adventure, outdoor program, STEM and other things as they'd have if Boy Scouts was open to girls. They can do everything Boy Scouts can do. Strike that, the can do MORE than Boy Scouts can do...they just cannot get Eagle.

 

 

I'm not too familiar with how they are running the STEM program. The other programs are open to girls who are 14+ and even then, there are exclusions. Male venturers can join OA but females can't because...envelope please... OA is a BOY scout program and girls are not allowed in our clubhouse until they turn 21 and register as adults. 

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Yes, I understand the societal changes occurring in the 21st Century.  I am not anti-co-ed in any sense of the word. (I don't even know if anti-co-ed is even a word.  :) )

 

What I am trying to point out is that the freedom of choice is being systematically removed from the society.  In the far extreme the other way, having men and women separate denies the choice of co-ed.  In our society, we are doing the same in the exact opposite, the choice of separated social dynamics is being denied.  A fair and equitable society would promote both options.  male/female separate AND co-ed, allowing people of that society to choose from both worlds.

 

This third option is still valued in our society as we see the strength of GS/USA offering females this option.  It would be nice to have it equally applicable to males as well.  One does not see large numbers of people opting for Heritage Girls as one sees it happening with Trail Life/USA.  As far as male/female traditional roles adapting, 4-H has mastered this within it's co-ed program.  Males can have access to household/traditional female skill development (some of the best needlepoint at the fairs are done by males and many of the needlepoint classes  I attended were taught by males.  On the other hand, females raising horses, sheep and pigs is common as well at the fairs.  The boys have the option to choose.

 

What is interesting and supports a valid point is that religious based organizations have co-ed development programs as well as such programs as Heritage Girls and Trail Life USA and do just as well as 4-H.  These community and faith based organizations still honor the option in our society for the freedom to make multiple choices, not just ones that are correct only according to some political agenda that restricts the freedom of choice.  It is unfortunate that only the wealthy that can afford it in our society still have the option and means to make such a choice.

 

Even the world of sports still is a bastion of male/female separation that has always had the option for co-ed.  Yet, one does not see co-ed as being a chosen choice very often.  But when it is chosen, it is acceptable, net not much in the schools, community and professional levels.  I have yet to see professional wrestling or ultimate boxing pitting male against female.  The choice is there, the famous tennis match between King and Riggs was viewed more as a joke than serious sports.

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Even the world of sports still is a bastion of male/female separation that has always had the option for co-ed.  Yet, one does not see co-ed as being a chosen choice very often.  But when it is chosen, it is acceptable, net not much in the schools, community and professional levels.  I have yet to see professional wrestling or ultimate boxing pitting male against female.  The choice is there, the famous tennis match between King and Riggs was viewed more as a joke than serious sports.

 

Some sports like wrestling are now co-ed and some girls are doing great in tournaments. 

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