KERRY HUBARTT: Was the necessity really there for ‘Scout Me In’ movement?

Kerry Hubartt

Is anybody really surprised by Boy Scouts of America’s decision to remove “boy” from its name?

The parent organization will remain the Boy Scouts of America, and the Cub Scouts (kindergarten-fifth grade) will keep its title, as well. But the Boy Scouts (11- to 17-year-olds) will now be Scouts BSA and will begin accepting girls in February.

The liberal attack on the delineation between male and female has affected everything from toys to attire to equal access (even of bathrooms) in recent years.

The “politically correct” campaign not to label people by gender comes to light through the BSA’s announcement Wednesday of the new name for its Boy Scouts program. It was another outgrowth of LGBT pressure on the BSA to change its membership requirements over the last few years — in 2013 lifting a ban on openly gay members, in 2015 ending a ban on gay scout leaders and last year announcing it would accept transgender members. But is the move by BSA really a move toward androgyny in this country? Or simply a step toward inclusiveness?

Women and girls have crossed gender barriers in many ways throughout the years. Sports is one area, and some girls have actually played on boys teams when they had no other outlet. Women have long been making headway in most other areas dominated by men. And there are plenty of co-ed organizations around, such as school bands, 4H and FFA.

That’s what makes the Boys Scouts’ move confusing. There are already Girl Scouts. Why do the girls need to be in the Boy Scouts? Girl Scouts are about a lot more than just cookies. The 106-year-old organization prepares girls “to empower themselves” and promotes attributes such as courage, confidence, character, leadership and citizenship as well as activities such as camping, community service, learning first aid and earning badges for acquiring skills.

Sounds a lot like the 108-year-old Boy Scouts organization, doesn’t it?

Georgia state Sen. Michael Williams, a Republican candidate in his state’s gubernatorial primary, told Huffington Post, “Liberals tell us that masculinity is ‘toxic’ and that girls can be boys and boys should no longer be boys.”

He criticized BSA for caving to “left-wing social engineers who want to remove the concept of male masculinity from society.”

His reaction included the suggestion that if society had supported such a name change during World War I, the U.S. would have been taken over by Nazis. That may be a bit over the top. Perhaps there are other factors at work here.

BSA says it has about 1.25 million Cub Scouts and more than 800,000 Boy Scouts across the U.S., way down from its peak of nearly 5 million in the 1970s.

The Girl Scouts, on the other hand, say they have about 1.76 million girls, down from just over 2 million in 2014. The New York Times reported that last year the president of the Girl Scouts accused the BSA of trying to undermine the organization through a “covert campaign to recruit girls.”

“I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts,” Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, the president of the Girl Scouts, wrote to Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson.

Already, more than 3,000 girls have joined about 170 Cub Scout packs participating in the first phase of the new “Scout Me In” campaign. Will the Girl Scouts respond by recruiting boys?

Kerry Hubartt is the former editor of The News-Sentinel.