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Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and "fixing problems."

How we talk about certain topics can define how we feel about those topics and shape other’s views on the topic. This has been shown in many different ways, in many different contexts. Some examples; using the determiner “the” in front of a social identifier changes the tone in a negative way, saying “those people” instead of identifying an individual, or calling people a slur or biased name in general. These are all examples of how the language we use both shapes us and is shaped by our feelings and thoughts.

Recently, the Boy Scouts of America decided to allow girls into their scouting programs. Along with this decision, they have decided to also change their name from Boy Scouts to Scouts. This has a lot of people in an uproar and claiming things like, “This is a liberal agenda,” or “Society is going downhill.” These statements are demonstrably false. As a former Scout leader, I can’t tell you how many parents I talked to, with myself included in this group, that wished that our daughters could be members of the same organization. We just weren’t satisfied with the Girl Scouts for various reasons. And that is where we come to the point of this article. When I mention this to people online and in person, they all react the exact same: “Why don’t they just fix the girl scouts?”

Remember in the first paragraph when I touched on how language shapes us and we shape it? When you use the word “Fix” in this scenario, I can already tell that we have a problem. First and foremost, the Girl Scouts aren’t broken. They work just fine. There is no reason to say that they need to be “Fixed.” This argument runs along the same lines as the separate but equal arguments of the 19th century. The Girl Scouts are a different organization, focused on different values. Not every girl wants to be a Girl Scout. Some want to do more of the outdoor, active, Boy Scout type activities, and why shouldn’t they be allowed to? We already have Venture Scouts for older kids, which is a coed organization. We have the new, up and coming STEM scouts, also coed. There are many non-BSA organizations also, which have split off over the years to develop more inclusive environments for the excluded kids. Religion is also a major part of the Scouts, so when you have non-religious families, they cannot join, or they can join but face hiding their identities.

When you use the word “Fix” to describe why you should not let a group of people do something, it really does put you on the same lines of those people who say we should, “Fix a culture,” “Fix a race,” or even, “Fix a religious group.”

Sorry, but I just can’t see how being more inclusive is a negative thing. And yes, this means I would also agree with allowing boys into the Girl Scouts, if those are the activities they wish to participate in. Whatever meets your children’s needs and wants and matches your core values. You shouldn’t be held back due to your gender.

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