The Meaning of Scout’s Honor

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There’s something even more pleasant than just the remnants of an empty cookie tray in an iconic Girl Scout cookie box. To put it simply, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) rules.  From its mission to instill confidence in every girl to its awesome assortment of packages with faces of every color, there really isn’t anything cooler than being a Girl Scout. And with its recent admission of its first-ever 7-year-old transgendered member, the organization that strives to teach courage, fairness, and citizenship pulls off feminist action powerfully.

On the flip side, we see a darkened view on scout recruitment and action in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), the 102-year-old organization that refuses to change its ban on LGBTQ members. Last week, the BSA faced criticism (again) from the one person you really don’t want to get criticism from: Ellen Degeneres. Using her daily monologue to address the BSA’s recent postponement of its policy vote, Ellen showcased her signature humor and basically ripped the BSA’s decision from sash to sash. “They’re trying to teach kids to be leaders. And the more that we teach people how to accept people for who they are, the more self-confident they’ll be and the better leaders they’ll become.” The statement, which should earn Degeneres the title of “Honorary Girl Scout,” remains persistent through the gendered controversy.

Boy Scouts, according to the BSA’s mission statement, train on topics like responsible citizenship, character development, and self-reliance. But when that type of citizenship and character development and self-reliance begins from a source of bigotry and discrimination, the outlook for boys as leaders in this country looks darker than ever.

The stark contrast between the GSUSA and the BSA reflects a gendered complex all too telling of our standards as a society. Whether we blame the BSA’s affiliation with the Mormon church or simply on it’s out of touch principles, one thing remains constant and problematic: that the age-old saying “Boys will be boys” rings louder each day, that the definition of masculinity remains unchanged, and that the future of boys who don’t fit within the scope looks harsher with each rejection.

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