The Boy Scouts of America made a controversial decision to accept girls, sparking a conversation about young girls’ needs and women-centered spaces at Mills on Oct. 8.
The decision to allow girls to join Boy Scouts was an attempt to combat dwindling membership and keep up with the progressive needs of families. Although the decision was geared at providing girls with more opportunities, the biggest criticism of the decision has come from the Girl Scouts, The New York Times reported.
“So much of a girl’s life is a life where she is in a coed environment,” said Lisa Margosian, chief customer officer for Girl Scouts to the New York Times. “We have so much research and data that suggests that girls really thrive in an environment where they can experiment, take risks and stretch themselves in the company of other girls.”
At Mills, a historically women’s college, students had mixed opinions on the Boy Scout’s decision. Masha Soshnin believes that women-centered spaces are important places for growth.
“Girls should have equal opportunity,” Soshnin said, “but they should still have spaces for women, like Mills.”
Some students, like Maia Zaiee, wish that girls were allowed to be Boy Scouts when she was growing up.
“Boy Scouts always seemed cooler,” Zaiee said. “I was never a Girl Scout, but I always wanted to be a Boy Scout.”
Like Zaiee, Soshnin wasn’t a Girl Scout either, but wished that she could have been a Boy Scout.
“I grew up in Alaska camping and fishing, but I was never taught any of the skills the guys around me were taught,” Soshnin said. “I would’ve totally kicked the boys’ asses.”
Although Zaiee is glad that girls can now join the Boy Scouts, she hopes that in the future the groups can exist outside of the gender binary.
“So many things would be better if we didn’t think of it terms of ‘boy’ and ‘girl,’ Zaiee said. “It just perpetuates gender norms.”
Madison Buhbe grew up knowing girl scouts, but was not a Girl Scout herself. She believes that the different activities and skills the groups focus on will help girls to be successful in an unequal society.
“Girl Scouts prepares girls to set themselves apart in the world because they need that to go places in our society,” Buhbe said. “Boys will get places in business regardless.”
For all of the 13 years Cassidy Schmitt was a Girl Scout, she never wished that she could be in the Boy Scouts instead. Even though Schmitt preferred the more hands-on activities that were more common in Boy Scouts, she found that she could still pursue those hobbies in Girl Scouts.
“There are definitely opportunities to learn really similar stuff in Girl Scouts, but it’s not necessarily what the organization is geared towards,” Schmitt said. “I sought out more of those types of activities at camp.”
Schmitt also found that the Boy Scouts she went to school with while growing up were cruel to her and would tease her about being a Girl Scout.
“The Boy Scouts were so mean,” Schmitt said. “In class, a Boy Scout said to me ‘Girl Scouts are so dumb, all you do is sell cookies,’ so I beat the kid at a race.”
Sierra Green was a Girl Scout for 11 years, and like Schmitt never felt she was missing out by not being a Boy Scout.
“I always felt like I was getting the better deal than the Boy Scouts because I feel like Boy Scouts teach you how to survive in the wilderness and Girl Scouts teaches you how to survive in the real world, or the business world,” Green said.
Green is glad that she got to be a part of the Girl Scouts, but supports girls who choose to become part of the Boy Scouts. However, Green believes that Girl Scouts are an important organization that needs to continue to exist.
“I have respect for both institutions,” Green said. “But in relation to Boy Scouts allowing girls, I don’t think that would be a replacement for Girl Scouts; I think it’s just an alternate opportunity for girls.”
While some Mills students wish they could have been a Boy Scout and some do not, they agree that women-centered spaces like Girl Scouts are important. Green greatly values the skills she learned in Girl Scouts that she couldn’t have gotten in Boy Scouts.
“Girl Scouts taught me to be strong and kind and be a leader,” Green said. “And I personally wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.”