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Girl Scouts Accuse Boy Scouts of Stealing New Members

2017-8-24

The Girls Scouts of America is accusing the Boy Scouts of America of secretly trying to recruit girls.

Girl Scouts President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan wrote a letter to Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson. In it, Hannan said her organization was upset to learn that the Boy Scouts were talking to young parents about creating programs for their daughters.

"We were disappointed in the lack of transparency as we learned that you are… testing the appeal of a girls' offering to millennial parents," she wrote.

Hannan also said in her letter that she thought the Boy Scouts were being dishonest about being only for boys. Instead, she said, the Boy Scouts are creating a model for both boys and girls.

Girl Scouts Sarah and Megan Lontoc, 10, place flags as the scouts placed thousands of flags on veteran's graves at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in honor of Memorial Day, Friday, May 27, 2016, in Wrightstown N.J. (AP Photo)
Girl Scouts Sarah and Megan Lontoc, 10, place flags as the scouts placed thousands of flags on veteran's graves at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in honor of Memorial Day, Friday, May 27, 2016, in Wrightstown N.J. (AP Photo)

Membership in the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts has declined in recent years. Both organizations have lost more than 1 million members from their highest rates.

In answer, top leaders met this month to discuss working together.

However, Hannan wrote that she believed the Boy Scouts had already started to create coed programs that would damage the Girl Scouts.

The letter was first reported by BuzzFeed News.

Decline in membership

The Boy Scouts confirmed in a statement to The Washington Post that it is considering including girls in its organization. However, the organization said it is not doing so to increase its numbers. Instead, it is responding to requests from families who want their daughters to be a part of the same organization as their sons.

"The Boy Scouts of America believes in the benefit of single-gender programs," said Effie Delimarkos, director of national communications for the Boy Scouts, in a statement.

But, she added, many boys and girls are not in either the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts. So, Delimarkos wrote, the Boy Scouts are trying to help families by creating programs that fit into their busy lives.

The programs aim to “deliver character development and values-based leadership training,'' Delimarkos said.

Some women outside the Girl Scouts have asked the Boy Scouts to include girls.

In February, after the Boy Scouts announced it would admit transgender children in its programs, the National Organization for Women (NOW) praised the group. It asked the Boy Scouts to honor its promise to “help all children by permitting girls to gain full membership."

NOW said it was inspired by the efforts of a 15-year-old New York City girl, Sydney Ireland, to act like her older brother, who is an Eagle Scout.

Unlike the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts have continued to allow only girls in their programs. They say empowering girls is their most important purpose.

I’m Phil Dierking

This story was originally written for VOANews. Phil Dierking adapted this story for VOA Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

Do you think the Boy Scouts should allow females into their organization? Should Girl Scouts allow males to join? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.

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Words in This Story

coed - adj. having or including both men and women

empower - v. to give power to (someone)

gender - n. the state of being male or female

millennial - n. a person who was born in the 1980s or 1990s

recruit - v. to find suitable people and get them to join a company, an organization, the armed forces, etc.

transgender - adj. of or relating to people who feel that their true nature does not match their sex at birth