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A Letter from BSA’s Chief Diversity Officer & Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion


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22 minutes ago, Armymutt said:

To me, it's less of a concern about girls taking charge than it is having to live with an extension of high school into Scouting.  My experience was that the moment girls factored into the mix, the dynamics changed in the troop.  Guys were suddenly showing off, picking on other kids, etc.  We ran into co-ed Italian and Norwegian troops at Kandersteg and this happened.  Same thing when the sister of one of the Scouts in my troop came with us to a water park.  One of the guys had a crush on her at school, and he started being a dick to others when she was there.  Maybe the 21st century male is different, but I doubt it.  

I have several contexts to compare. Three are decades dated, and two within the last 15 years. I’m also not sure if all or any are currently relevant. I’ll stick with our sons’ and my experiences. 

I had multiple groups and activities that were coed and many that were not. Scouts stands out as the most “male-centric” and sequestered of all, including sports and being an altar boy (server). In the coed situations, all the elements of boy/girl tensions and attractions dramatically changed the dynamics, even in theater, band and choir. It was hormonal and culturally unavoidable. If the sports had cheerleaders, again the same tensions. In Scouts, putting the abuse and perversions of our Troop leaders aside, we had none of that, unless there were family visits or fully public events. I can’t even imagine the “sc-outing” experience if it had been coed.

As to my sons, the same holds. Most notable, our youngest went to an all boys boarding school with a “sister school” located not too far away. If you camera-isolated the boys in the coed group and separately, you could almost always see the difference. Granted, some boys were oblivious, consistent and so focused on their tasks/performance you’d never know. The boys only environment It made for a very intense, productive and security-nurturing experience for him. He would not be who he is today without it. My nickel’s worth.

22 minutes ago, skeptic said:

That simply shows me that the male youth are not willing to step up.  The real leaders will come to the top, given the opportunities.  If the girls are taking the lead, what does that say for the boys?  They can either take the challenge, or let the girls do the job and simply coast.  Again, the ones that want to will come to the fore.

As to the mature guys coming to the fore, I think that can certainly be true. I couldn’t have  cared less and only would’ve been more inclined to push my way in to impress. I supposed that’s a different type of behavior alteration. As a dad of both boys and girls, the physical and cognitive developmental differences - in terms of onset and maturation - were stark. I also factor in the impact on shy, reserved and introverted boys. The presence of girls can cause what look like trauma responses in them, mostly freight or freeze, occasionally flight. This stands (stood?) as a barrier to some boys ever being “able” or ready to make the inch or leap toward leadership. Dunno. More nickels, I guess...

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I agree Fred, I  have never heard a kid say that they joined Scouts to learn leadership, responsibility, life enriching lessons, diversity or inclusion.  They want to camp out, play with fire and kniv

I am a lifer. Started as a Cub, earned Eagle and aged out. Was a Sea Scout for a bit while serving as an ASM. Not only did i not leave the movement,  but I also worked for it.  In my professional opin

This is a long-stated position of mine.   BSA needs to be careful about their messages to the adult volunteers.  Adult volunteers too often hear that BSA is about leadership.  Thus, their job is to

2 hours ago, skeptic said:

That simply shows me that the male youth are not willing to step up.  The real leaders will come to the top, given the opportunities.  If the girls are taking the lead, what does that say for the boys?  They can either take the challenge, or let the girls do the job and simply coast.  Again, the ones that want to will come to the fore.  Still, just my own view.  

 

I think  you're on the mark here. The boys, save one, are not willing to step up. They're  just starting to figure  out how this boy/ girl relationship thing works.  They don't want to be embarrassed in front of  their peers. A fate worse than death  when  you're 12. So they play it safe. Act cool. Don't put yourself in a situation that might become awkward. Head down and mouth shut is the order of the day.  

When the ladies aren't around; totally different story.

Edited by Oldscout448
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And that is part of growing up.  Why should scouts not be exposed just like non scouts?  But, coed and separate can all work together as needed.  If all are an option, then each works the best they can in their particular unit.  New directions might derive for some, while others may choose to forego the challenges.  Twice, way back when, we encountered GS groups actually backpacking and we shared nearby spaces.  Everybody enjoyed those encounters, and we had a couple of lively and different campfires.  Also, once, when we were camped at Balboa Camp in Balboa Park, San Diego over a spring break, I had to deal with Girl Scouts at the gate that separated the two camps.  The female leaders were also challenged, and one indignant that "our boys" would distract "her" girls.  Kind of funny, really.  Proper YP supervision is the only must.  It was in the noted interactions, and it is if you have a coed group.  We do not need to make it more of a challenge than needed; rather, we should be embracing those challenges.  Afterall, B.P. responded to the girls that showed up in mass at the early London gathering by turning to Agnes to develop a program for them.  But, we all know that coed has been normal in much of the world almost from the outset, and today is close to universal.

 

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1 hour ago, MattR said:

Welcome to the forum,  @ToKindle96

I agree that dual troops are essentially coed.

I have not seen any of the boys be idiots but it doesn't surprise me. If I were still SM and I did see it we would have a discussion.

I have also not seen the girls take over. They like their patrol. They also like a bigger troop with a bunch of patrols. It's doing more to promote patrol method than anything else.

Our troops are very much separate and for the most part, both the boys and the girls prefer it that way.  For the first 6-9 months after we started we had a bunch of joint campouts (though they always met separately) and when the question was asked of the kids about continuing with joint events they pretty much universally said "maybe occasionally, but mostly separate".

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34 minutes ago, elitts said:

Our troops are very much separate and for the most part, both the boys and the girls prefer it that way.  For the first 6-9 months after we started we had a bunch of joint campouts (though they always met separately) and when the question was asked of the kids about continuing with joint events they pretty much universally said "maybe occasionally, but mostly separate".

It's like summer camp.  Our camp has at least 50 troop sites.  I really bet that 30+ of those sites are really good.  In those sites, I'm betting scouts think their site is the best.  They know it.  They have good memories.  They want to go back next year.

So when your troop chooses to stay mostly separate, I'd bet it's more that they like your troop and have had good experiences.  They want to avoid change and the unknown.  

Those same scouts ... if they had joined with a co-ed troop ... they would only know that co-ed troop and would be perfectly happy with it.  ... again ... generally ... most scouts ... 

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14 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

It's like summer camp.  Our camp has at least 50 troop sites.  I really bet that 30+ of those sites are really good.  In those sites, I'm betting scouts think their site is the best.  They know it.  They have good memories.  They want to go back next year.

So when your troop chooses to stay mostly separate, I'd bet it's more that they like your troop and have had good experiences.  They want to avoid change and the unknown.  

Those same scouts ... if they had joined with a co-ed troop ... they would only know that co-ed troop and would be perfectly happy with it.  ... again ... generally ... most scouts ... 

No.  We tried mixed company for almost a year.  They didn't like it so we did separate stuff for another year and when the issue was revisited again, they still said they prefer camping separately.

It's not that doing Scouts co-ed "wouldn't work", clearly the kids are comfortable in co-ed environments since that's what the rest of their life is.  If that was the only option, I'm sure both the boys and the girls would cope and things would cruise along.  But that doesn't have any bearing on whether or not its the best option.  And while I don't know exactly what all the reasons are for our girls troop to prefer being separate, I know that for the boys, a big reason is "we just don't have to stress about there being girls around".

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10 minutes ago, elitts said:

No.  We tried mixed company for almost a year.  They didn't like it so we did separate stuff for another year and when the issue was revisited again, they still said they prefer camping separately.

It's not that doing Scouts co-ed "wouldn't work", clearly the kids are comfortable in co-ed environments since that's what the rest of their life is.  If that was the only option, I'm sure both the boys and the girls would cope and things would cruise along.  But that doesn't have any bearing on whether or not its the best option.  And while I don't know exactly what all the reasons are for our girls troop to prefer being separate, I know that for the boys, a big reason is "we just don't have to stress about there being girls around".

I suspect that many girl troops do not choose to be separate.  Depends on the members and the established interactions with a boy troop, or not.  It seems though that separate patrols  would allow pretty much the same thing for much of the time in a coed group.  The thing is, it should be the youth that decide, not the out of touch National hierarchy.  All Scouting is local; remember?

 

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16 hours ago, skeptic said:

I suspect that many girl troops do not choose to be separate.  Depends on the members and the established interactions with a boy troop, or not.  It seems though that separate patrols  would allow pretty much the same thing for much of the time in a coed group.  The thing is, it should be the youth that decide, not the out of touch National hierarchy.  All Scouting is local; remember?

 

But any linked troop can run functionally coed if they really want to, outside of the formal troop structure, so what is really being added by allowing full co-ed troops other than not requiring 5 girls to start one?  If the boys and girls want to camp together under the current system, they can; if they don't want to , they can choose that too.  If "full co-ed" becomes allowable, that choice will go away in many situations as the adults will end up deciding "easier is better" and the administrative hassles of 2 troops will make the decision, not the scouts.

Plus, camping in fully separate patrols (with 300' separation) isn't as easy as it might sound.  If you only have 1-3 patrols it's probably not too hard, but we frequently have 3-4 youth and 1 adult patrol on camp-outs and finding places to accommodate that much physical separation is often quite difficult.  And trust me, when I was Camping Coordinator I tried HARD to get the adults far enough away to get parents out of their kid's campsites.  I could only manage it about half the time.

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22 minutes ago, elitts said:

But any linked troop can run functionally coed if they really want to, outside of the formal troop structure, so what is really being added by allowing full co-ed troops other than not requiring 5 girls to start one?  If the boys and girls want to camp together under the current system, they can; if they don't want to , they can choose that too.  If "full co-ed" becomes allowable, that choice will go away in many situations as the adults will end up deciding "easier is better" and the administrative hassles of 2 troops will make the decision, not the scouts.

Plus, camping in fully separate patrols (with 300' separation) isn't as easy as it might sound.  If you only have 1-3 patrols it's probably not too hard, but we frequently have 3-4 youth and 1 adult patrol on camp-outs and finding places to accommodate that much physical separation is often quite difficult.  And trust me, when I was Camping Coordinator I tried HARD to get the adults far enough away to get parents out of their kid's campsites.  I could only manage it about half the time.

It seems to me that you answered your own comment.  Other than the paperwork, what is different if the two units, one boy and one girl, actually fly together, as it were?  KISS should be the guide word here.  Too many of us are far too "anal" much of the time.  JMHO

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5 minutes ago, skeptic said:

It seems to me that you answered your own comment.  Other than the paperwork, what is different if the two units, one boy and one girl, actually fly together, as it were?  KISS should be the guide word here.  Too many of us are far too "anal" much of the time.  JMHO

The difference is that if it becomes officially allowed, the adults will take the option of remaining single gender away from the scouts in favor of "easier".

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I'm not sure I see the real harm in that decision being "taken" from the youth; they already don't decide membership requirements. Having said that, I am not at all opposed to keeping single sex units, but I would view them as transitional to where it is obvious BSA is headed.

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On 12/9/2021 at 4:18 PM, skeptic said:

I suspect that many girl troops do not choose to be separate. 

What leads you to suspect this? I suspect many adults would find it easier to do coed troops. Our girl troop prefers to be separate as does the 3-4 others we have interacted with. I suspect adults would find it easier to make them coed. 

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