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These Girls Want to Be Part of the Boy Scouts

The organization is reluctant to change the rules for a group of adventure-seeking girls.

Photo via Flickr user Anthony DeRobertis

A group of girls who call themselves the Unicorns want to join the Boy Scouts, but they’re encountering challenges from an institution that prides itself on tradition, even though it has recently signaled its willingness to change. The Unicorns, a group of five girls based in Santa Rosa, California, are lobbying their local Boy Scouts troop for formal membership. The girls apparently found themselves bored with the roster of activities offered to them by the Girls Scouts—selling cookies, playing tag, and lighting fires—and decided they want to partake in the far more rigorous Boys Scouts curriculum.


“We can do the same things boys can,” 10-year-old Ella Jacobs told The New York Times. “There’s no really ‘girl things’ or ‘boy things.’”

But parents of the Boy Scouts and scout leaders are reluctant to bend the rules for the girls. The former group of pearl-clutching, concerned adults express fears of shared co-ed tents and worries that the girls would start occupying leadership roles once guaranteed to the boys (which sounds to me like “gender equity”). It’s weird how these anxieties mirror those that exist in the broader, adult world, where fragile masculinities are crumbling in the face of an ascendant womanhood. The protection of the male ego always comes at the exclusion of girls.

Shared tents can be avoided, but feminine potential cannot be suppressed. In fact, at a recent co-ed scouting competition, the Unicorns walked away with a “fistful of ribbons.” Still, this exhibition of raw skill and talent has done little to move the hearts of the Boy Scouts organization. “The rules and regulations, the bylaws, don’t allow that,” Rodney Mangus, a local Boy Scouts leader, told The New York Times.

It was only this past year that the Boy Scouts changed its antiquated policies banning queer scout leaders (their sister organization, the Girls Scouts, implemented an official policy welcoming transgender girls back in 2011).

“I’d like to see them standing up like they did for the gay scouts and the gay leaders,” said Allie Westover, a 13-year old Unicorn.

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