4 Ways Girl Scouts and Scouts BSA Don’t Line Up

The Boy Scouts of America are no more. Or rather, they’ve rebranded themselves as “Scouts BSA,” a reflection of their decision to open their doors to female scouts at the beginning of this year. The new rebrand puts them even more in direct competition with (you guessed it) the Girl Scouts. Policy-wise, the two groups never exactly saw eye-to-eye, but this latest announcement may move them solidly from “frenemy” to “mean girls” territory, with the Girl Scouts throwing major shade on BSA’s new female scout power grab.

So let’s pretend you’re a discerning female scout wannabe looking for a group — which group org would you choose? We summed up some ways the groups don’t quite line up.

1. Gender mix

With the new policy change, BSA groups are open to both male and female scouts. But it’s not clear that will mean all scouts will be in a co-ed environment. When the Boy Scouts announced back in 2017 that it would start accepting girls to Cub Scouts, officials said dens — the smallest unit — would be either all boys or all girls, whereas packs, which are larger and include a number of dens would have the option of welcoming both genders if they chose. With the new BSA announcement, the level of integration may vary locally.

The Girl Scouts still only accept female scouts — including transgender girls, albeit with a wordy case-by-case caveat. This mirrors the policy of the pre-BSA-rebrand Boy Scouts organization, which started accepting transgender boy scouts in 2017.


2. Scout pledge

Let’s talk scout pledges. Assuming BSA law is the same as Boy Scout Law, BSA scouts pledge to be “trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”

Girl Scout Law says : “I will do my best to be Honest and Fair, Friendly and Helpful, Considerate and Caring, Courageous and Strong, and Responsible for what I say and do, And to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

3. Activities

If you like merit badges, you’re in luck — both groups offer ’em, and there’s a lot of overlap in terms of STEM skills, outdoorsy stuff, and life skills. One big difference between the groups, though, is fundraising. While Girl scouts have their annual cookie sales, BSA don’t have the same kind of universal fundraising tool. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on (a) how much you see cookie sales as entrepreneur skills (b) how good your local BSA troop is as coming up with alternative fundraising, and (c) how many boxes of thin mints you have left in your freezer.

4. Politics

The Girl Scouts have a reputation for being on the more liberal side of the scout divide, though their social values statement seems to push back on that to the tune of individual choice. The Girl Scouts are a secular organization “that refrains from teaching religious or spiritual beliefs or practices.”

Going back in BSA history, the group has conservative roots. Gay scouts were banned up until 2013 and gay scout leaders until 2015, with the organization at one point releasing a statement saying it believed that “homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word and deed.”

But, angering some conservatives, BSA has been changing their policies as what seems like breakneck speed–compared to, say, the first several decades of the group’s existence.

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