North Carolina Newspapers

    Page 6
October 2000
Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts Show Just How Different Scouting Can Be
chapters and corporate spon
sors of the Boy Scouts have
withdrawn monetary sup
port to local chapters. And
numerous individual troops
where the leadership dis
agrees with the ruling have
written their own nondis
crimination policies, stating
the troop's noncompliance
with the policy held by the
national organization.
In addition, the court ruling
has raised questions about
the policies of similar organi
zations, including the Girl
Scouts. Contrary to popular
opinion, the two organiza
tions are not related in the
United States. Scouting USA,
which sponsors Boy Scouts,
Cub Scouts, Tiger Cubs, and
Explorer Scouts, is not con
nected with Girl Scouts of the
USA, which is a member of
WAGGGS, the World Asso
ciation of Girl Guides and
Girl Scouts.
Girl Scouting is the largest
organization in the world for
girls and women, with ap
proximately 3.6 million mem
bers in the United States and
in troops of American girls
overseas. Founded in 1912,
the Girl Scouts remains as
founder Juliette Gordon Low
envisioned it, an organization
"for all the girls." As early as
1917, the Girl Scouts empha
sized inclusion and diversity,
making an effort to include
girls with disabilities in local
troops. At the same time, Af
rican-American girls were
also among those to benefit
from Girl Scouting's long
standing tradition of plural
ism. By the end of the 1920s,
Girl Scouting furthered this
tradition by actively estab
lishing troops in areas that
would encourage Native
American girls to participate.
The organization received a
Congressional Charter in the
1950s; this charter is an hon
orary title selectively given to
patriotic, charitable, and edu
cational organizations.
Girl Scouting continues to
be an organization with a
mission to empower girls and
women —all girls and
women—to be their best and
to contribute to the better
ment of society. It teaches a
positive value system, en
couraging its members to be,
among other things, honest,
fair, respectful, courageous
and responsible for their ac
tions. It is built :On a founda
tion of equality, service, edu
cation and leadership de
cades old while maintaining
a contemporary outlook on
society. The values found in
the Girl Scout Promise and
Law, on which the Girl Scout
program is based, provide an
essential framework for de
veloping character, making
sound decisions and fostering
strength of conviction. This
can perhaps be summarized
in two slogans recently un
veiled by GSUSA as the orga
nization approaches a new
millennium — "Girl Scouting
is for every girl, everywhere,”
and "Girl Scouts — Where
Girls Grow Strong."
These two organizations,
while seemingly similar from
the outside, espouse tradi
tions and values that are dia
metrically opposed at some
points. One with an empha
sis on inclusion, one with a
policy of exclusion; one with
a history of being ahead of
society with respect to ac
tively encouraging minority
participation, one whose ar
chaic stance seems unlikely to
change in the near future.
In the shadow of this
summer's Supreme Court de
cision, both organizations
have faced interrogation as to
the nature of the policies each
has in effect. The benefits of
each organization to the
populations they serve have
come under close scrutiny,
and parents have been forced
to consider carefully the de
cision to enroll their children
in organizations that will un
doubtedly shape their value
systems. Only time will re
veal the long-term impact of
the decision on the children
of this country, whose best
interests they claim to serve.
Sarah can be reached at

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