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Posted (edited)

I'm regularly and consistently baffled by the efforts to which scouters are currently going out of their way to muddy the terminology used to describe scouts today. At a council event recently it seemed like scouters were doing their very best to make it as difficult as possible to talk about scouts, particularly girls at the troop level.

I heard seemingly any and every way of awkwardly describing scouts, including "Girl scouts" (followed by "I'm not saying Girl Scouts, I'm saying girl, comma, scouts, so it's ok.") As well as the frequent addressing of scouts as "boys" despite being in a setting in which girls were present. Or the awkward mention of "boys" quickly followed by, "...and girls, girls too." I guess credit is deserved for at least trying to correct it.

The worst is the "Scouts BSA Scouts", phrasing. It's not technically wrong, just... why? Why are we making this harder than it needs to be?

I just don't get the issue. Maybe some scouters are in the habit of saying "boys" but it's just not what I've ever seen or done, even in my own unit or council, and yet now it has somehow become a stumbling block for scouters talking about scouts. I've always just called scouts "Scouts", and that's all I have ever seen and heard from within my unit and frequently outside of my unit throughout district/council. "Scouts, line up," "Scouts, attention," "Scouts gather 'round," etc. Now for some reason all I hear is "Boys".

I hate to say it but in some cases I think it's an act of defiance, and if that is the case, I'm really disappointed in the scouters who are using terminology as a form of protest.

For those who are simply struggling with the old habit of saying "boys", and you're in a position where you are often addressing mixed-gender crowds (district/council/national events), please try to just say "Scouts". It's simple, it's probably what most of us are used to already, and it works.

We're over-complicating this, at best, or (in hopefully very rare cases) making terminology a form of exclusion or protest, at worst. Either way, we need to do better.

Edited by FireStone
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Posted (edited)

If you say "Boy Scouts" you are viewed as misogynistic, defiant,  and some unScoutlike terms,  and one who needs to leave Scouting. At least in certain areas of the country and on certain FB groups. This despite the fact that many old fogey's will use the term because it's been that way for 108+ years. You still have folks referring to Venturers as "Venture Scouts" 21 years later. ( An aside, when I spoke with the then National Venturing Director in May of 1998 at PDL-1, I and several others told him this would happen by using similar nomenclature used for the older Scout patrol at the time,i.e Venture crew, Venture Scouts. 21 years later it is still a problem)

And if you use the term "girl Scouts," it is more ammo for the GSUSA lawsuit.

Edited by Eagle94-A1

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For me it's just changing old habits. Give it time.

But your post reminded me of a concern I had the other day; is it inappropriate to call the scouts in a totally girl patrol "Girls"?  "Hi girls, I need to ask as question." I never worried about boys in a patrol, "Boys", but there seems to be some sensitivity with the girls side. There were even times I would refer to a group of men, or mixed group of male adult leaders and boys,  as boys. "The boys and I are meeting over by the fire". But I'm guessing that is also inappropriate with a totally female group of leaders. Trying to be respectful of feelings is getting really hard.

Barry

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From the Cub Scouting side, the issue is that Scouts BSA doesn't roll off the tongue the way Boy Scouts did, plus habits. It just takes a while to get it right.

I try to just say scouts when referring to a group of scouts, there's no reason to worry about gender.

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I was very strict with myself about calling my venturers young men and young women. More to let them know that's what I expected of them then out of any sense of political correctness.

If I'm talking about my troop, I will use the term "boys" more than before because the distinction may be informative to some.

If I'm talking about the new troop in an adjacent district I will use "girls" -- again, the distinction may be informative. Simple example, that troop may need a chaperone for backpacking. They already have a male leader. If five more guys step forward,  because I didn't specify the sex in the first place, we've wasted all of my time.

Other than that, collectively, I've called them scouts.

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Hello 94-A1:

I wouldn't worry too much about occasionally using the term "Boy Scouts".  While the top volunteers and pros would prefer use of the new term, the 26 Scouts in our all-girl troop often refer to themselves as being part of "Boy Scouts".  They take not the slightest offense at the use of that term -- which will informally be with us forever.  Our girls positively cheerlead being part of the movement, wear their uniforms (mostly older ones with the full BSA strip) with particular care and pride.  They would be very happy for you to call them "Boy Scouts". 

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I, for one, have far more important things to worry about than terminology.  For example, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could, in fact, chuck wood?

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18 minutes ago, mrkstvns said:

I, for one, have far more important things to worry about than terminology.  For example, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could, in fact, chuck wood?

Then you haven't been confronted, yet.

Barry

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30 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

Hello 94-A1:

I wouldn't worry too much about occasionally using the term "Boy Scouts".  While the top volunteers and pros would prefer use of the new term, the 26 Scouts in our all-girl troop often refer to themselves as being part of "Boy Scouts".  They take not the slightest offense at the use of that term -- which will informally be with us forever.  Our girls positively cheerlead being part of the movement, wear their uniforms (mostly older ones with the full BSA strip) with particular care and pride.  They would be very happy for you to call them "Boy Scouts". 

What movement? 

Shesh, qwazse has excellent advice. 

Barry

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31 minutes ago, Cburkhardt said:

I wouldn't worry too much about occasionally using the term "Boy Scouts".  While the top volunteers and pros would prefer use of the new term, the 26 Scouts in our all-girl troop often refer to themselves as being part of "Boy Scouts". 

When speaking to prospective female scouts and their families,  I deliberately use the term "Boy Scouts of America", for example "a new Boy Scouts of America troop for girls" or "an all-girls Boy Scouts of America" troop.   Why?  Because the general public is familiar with the term "Boy Scouts" and does not know the term "Scouts BSA".  

I am careful though with terminology, and try to use "Boy Scouts of America" instead of "Boy Scouts" since the organization is still "Boy Scouts of America" even though the program name is now "Scouts BSA"

 

 

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1 minute ago, Eagledad said:

What movement? 

The scout movement, or perhaps more specifically the "World Organization of the Scout Movement".

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4 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

The scout movement, or perhaps more specifically the "World Organization of the Scout Movement".

Ah, thanks. I guess there is more terminology confusion than I realized.

My apologies. 

Barry

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I have not seen much consternation over the terminology, except when using girls and scouts together. Obviously the current legal issues between BSA and GSUSA are the root of that issues.

I, and most I know, forgive the proximity bias, i.e. an SM of boys troop saying boys in mixed the mixed company of round tables etc. 

The girls I have talked to, my daughter included, are proud to be part of the Boy Scouts of America, be they Venturers or Scouts BSA. 

 

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Hi Barry,   I don't know how common the "movement" terminology is in BSA currently,  but it goes way back.   The preface of the 1911 BSA handbook starts "The Boy Scout Movement has become almost universal . . ." and the first chapter of the 1920 Scouting for Girls starts "When Sir Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scout movment in England . . ."

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