Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts: A Difference in Kind not Just in Degree

by | May 28, 2013 | Catholic Living, Parenting, Things I Think | 29 comments

As a Catholic and a mother of sons, I was disappointed with the recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America to change their policy to allow the participation of “active and avowed” homosexual scouts.

I have long championed the Boy Scouts an an organization that has been willing to suffer and fight for what is best for boys in the face of the terrible pressure of political correctness and homosexual advocates and it was a sad day on which they caved into that pressure.

But . . . 

Our family has made the decision to continue our participation in Boy Scouts while we have never and will never participate in Girl Scouts.  Here is why.

First, let’s look at what this change amounts to:  Previously the Boy Scouts had what was basically a “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy for its scouts.  Boys who had same sex attraction have always been welcome in Boy Scouts, and rightly so (CCC 2358).  What was not allowed was the participation of boys who were “active and avowed” homosexuals.  Now those boys, too, are allowed to participate in Boy Scouts.  (Adults are still bound by a 2005 Supreme Court decision that excludes same-sex-attracted leaders.)

I do not wish to downplay the seriousness and potential ill-effects in the future of this decision.  But the official position of the Boy Scouts has been, and continues to be, that:

Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.

The Girl Scouts have a different message.  It is an organization which is, at its core, dedicated to the mis-formation and corruption of the girls in its membership.  I do not believe that the mission of the Boy Scouts has yet been corrupted.  I certainly believe it’s possible that it WILL be.  But I don’t believe it’s happened yet.

The leadership of the Girl Scouts believes it is their responsibility to inform girls about sex and sexual experimentation and relationships and contraception and abortion and domestic abuse and homosexuality and transgender identification.  They believe that it is their duty to have these conversations with girls ESPECIALLY if their parents do not wish them to.  The following is a quote from a research study of 8-12 year old girls on the Girl Scout website.

Just as young girls are confronted with difficult “teen” issues like dating and sex at an increasingly early age, they are learning that their family confidantes are often unwilling or unable to discuss such issues.  

I understand that any particular Girl Scout troop at a particular school or parish might be quite lovely and run by very well-meaning individuals, but the Girl Scouts is an organization that is rotten at the core and so, as girls progress up through the levels they are presented over and over with a world view that is utterly incompatible with our Catholic faith.

And when you pay your dues or buy Girl Scout cookies you are actively supporting the immoral activities (including established ties with Planned Parenthood) of the leadership of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides organizations all over the world.

This is just not the case (at least not yet) with Boy Scouts.  The Boy Scouts are still dedicated to the formation of boys and young men into future leaders.  The difference is easy to see when you compare the upcoming Boy and Girl Scout events:

The 2013 Boy Scout Jamboree features activities such as:  Mountain Biking, Zip Lines, Archery, and Rock Climbing.

The 2013 Girl Scout Girltopia Teen Summit features topics including: Fashion and Beauty, Building Healthy Relationships, Body Image and Self Esteem, and Self-Development and Goal-Setting.

One of the talks from the 2011 event was:

Building Healthy Relationships – Jasmine Ceja, Break the Cycle – Grades 9-12 Being in a relationship can make you feel like you’re on the top of the world, but sometimes the person you like, love, trust or cherish makes you feel abused physically, mentally or emotionally. Join the discussion about the core requirements for healthy relationships and include personal stories of survivors of dating abuse, and warning signs and obstacles to leaving an abusive relationship.
It’s a far cry from the camping and crafts I remember from Girl Scouts.  Although I will say, I’m not sure the foundress of the Girl Scouts would be particularly dissapointed by their current state.

Certainly we must now be more wary of sending our sons off to any Boy Scout activities unsupervised by a parent from our own Boy Scout troop (my husband takes a very active role in our boys’ Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops).  But, unlike the Girl Scouts who can’t wait to get you away from your daughter so they can fill her head with their agenda, in our experience so far with Cub Scouts, parents are welcome and even required at all events.

It comes down to this:  The Boy Scouts are still a fundamentally good organization who have made a decision that is unfortunate and potentially damaging to some but that is unlikely to affect the majority of individual Boy Scouts.  The Girl Scouts, on the other hand, are a fundamentally immoral organization with an agenda that is incompatible with being a Christian.  And though they are actively trying to corrupt their members, apparently, some individual Girl Scouts have managed to avoid being corrupted.

I’ll take my chances with the former, in light of the potential benefits for my sons in the form of organized outdoorsmanship, manly camaraderie, and achievements that can be easily recognized by college admissions departments.  I will never expose my daughters to the dangers of the latter.  Not for all the cookies and friendship bracelets in the world.

This is a good summary of the various ways in which the Girl Scouts are problematic for Catholics.  And this is an excellent Catholic perspective on the current Boy Scout situation.  And here is a link to the Little Flowers Girls’ Club, the saints- and virtues-based Catholic girls’ club that we use and love.


  1. Stephanie

    I appreciated reading your thoughts on this – and I completely agree that at their core Boy and Girl Scouts are very different and clearly have differing missions!

  2. Valerie

    My husband is an eagle scout and has really been looking forward to starting up a Boy Scout troop to be sponsored by our Catholic church. Now that this is not an option, we've been talking about this topic a lot this weekend. Having loved Boy Scouts so much, he is really torn. His last comment yesterday after reading a priest's take on it was, "If the church cannot support it, then I guess I cannot either." We have been looking at getting involved in helping Dr. Taylor Marshall with his new group, The Scouts of St. George. I really appreciate your post though! Definitely something to ponder.

    • Kendra Tierney

      Thanks Valerie. Do check out the post I recommend above by a canon lawyer: Thoughts for Catholics impacted by the Boy Scouts of America membership policies. I agree with his assessment that the policy revision would not (at present) make sponsorship of Boy Scout troops by Catholic Churches inappropriate.

      I think we have to be wary of this as a way for people with a particular agenda to drive Christians away from an organization like the Boy Scouts which is still fundamentally good. If they are able to splinter the good families into all these new groups, then who will be left to defend the Boy Scouts?

  3. Kim

    I agree. I have had my 2 oldest in both of the scouts and the experience has been different.

    the boy scouts have always been very welcoming and accepting of all the little siblings and parents and include them in activities. Their agenda is more of moral formation.

    I had wanted to do girl scouts starting when my dd was 5 in CA. First off they almost refused to let me join making it like some private club. They kept saying our troop is "full" and is no longer accepting applicants–CRAZY! How can a troop be full ??? Eventually they let me in and by this time my dd had 2 little brothers. After the first meeting, they said I couldn't come back unless I only brought my dd–NO SIBLINGS EVER. Since I never had a sitter we dropped out. fast forward to middle school age, we moved to PA and rejoined. They were "nicer" here. But there were still problems that would take too long to go into here, but yeah they had issues. This particular troop was OK in terms of not warping her brain towards birth control and sex but I know this isn't always the case as I have seen the books myself that the older girls use. it is true everything you say. Eventually we dropped out altogether.

    But, next year my 5 yr old dd will probably join daisys only because I know all the people involved personally and am friends with them–so its a "this particular troop" type of thing….I am OK with daisys but middle school and high school girl scouts will not happen for us.
    Although, I do have issues about the entire concept of girl scouts and the planned parenthood association. I wish that wasn't the case. But for us, we have limited options of social interaction for the 5 year old and it would be a good fit for daisys.

    But ultimately, I totally agree with you.

    • Kendra Tierney

      Before you join the Daisies I would really, really encourage you to at least look at Little Flowers. What girls want from a club are to dress alike, eat snacks, and do crafts. Little Flowers provides all those things in a very affordable and user-friendly way. There are no dues and there's no central overseeing organization. There are books for the girls with a lesson about the saint and virtue for each month. They have sashes and earn badges. We have each family bring the snack and the craft for the group twice a year and I guide the girls though the lesson in the book. It's easy and fun and adorable. Not to mention cheaper, less hassle, and less likely to give scandal to others than if we participated in Girl Scouts. We have really loved it. We ended up doing Little Flowers because, like you, we were turned away from a Girl Scout troop. But we have found it to be a very happy accident. Good luck!

  4. Lisa D.

    I'm with you, Kendra. My husband is the Cub Master of our pack, at our church. He is an ASM in our small Boy Scout Troop, which consists 100% of families I know trust. We have been involved in Scouting for six years now, and it has been wonderful for our boys, and our whole family. I am not ready to jump ship yet.

    On the other hand, my daughter has never been involved in Girl Scouts, for all of the reasons you cited above, and also because I find the cookie hawking outside every single market in town really, really annoying. She has been involved in Little Flowers and in a Little Women Hospitality Group, which has been great. She is considering joining American Heritage Girls next year, which is more of a traditional scouting experience.

  5. Anonymous

    Things sure have changed since the days of craft projects and field trips when I was a Brownie Girl Scout! I really enjoyed reading this…I wish someone would share the recipe for the Tagalongs so I could seriously stay away from the GS completely! 🙂 I saw something posted on Facebook recently that was giving the opposite slant…one of my secular "friends" posted something about supporting the Girl Scouts because they do all these things. I am glad to know I am not the only one who saw those things and thought that I want nothing to do with that organization!

  6. Anonymous

    Sorry to be a pessimist here, but any other lines in the sand (no gay troop leaders, etc.) will be erased in due time because there is no principled basis any longer for keeping them. The homosexual lobby won and all you can say is at least it's not the Girl Scouts yet! Gee, how low are you going to set the bar? The patient has 6 months to live, yet we are supposed to be relieved that he's better off than the gal receiving CPR. The BSA's popularity will wane once it loses its reputation for transforming boys into men.

    • Kendra Tierney

      Well I would say six months to live is MUCH better than being in your death throes. Anything can happen in six months.

      I really think the biggest immediate threat to Boy Scouting is that the good families will be chased away by a misunderstanding, encouraged by people with an agenda, of what this policy change really means.

      I think the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts have had very different agendas right from the get go. The Boy Scouts have always been about encouraging the moral development of young men and the Girl Scouts have always been about "empowerment.". Juliette Low was pretty radical for her day.

    • Anonymous

      Sorry, but the BSA'S position on gay youths is contradictory. As a father, I can't trust the BSA with my children. I don't care if they can teach him to light a fire without matches. I would rather he pack a box of matches than be subjected to an active or avowed scout, regardless of his sexual proclivities. This is about self control. The BSA has nothing to keep it together if it cannot agree on this. It is fundamental to becoming an adult.

  7. therese

    thank you for your article. I was in girl scouts as a child and my daughters were too. this was long before I knew better, before knowing about the connection with planned parenthood.
    I wish our parish school would have had little flowers instead. What a wonderful group that sounds like. Should my daughters someday have daughters I will encourage them to do this instead.
    Its so true what you say about the girl scouts always been being about empowerment and the boy scouts about moral development of young men.
    I do not support the girl scouts in any way at this point . no cookies nothing.

  8. Anonymous

    I am also a mother of four in Scouting (three more not in it yet) and a leader. My husband was a Cubmaster and is currently an Asst. Scoutmaster. But we have been following this struggle very closely for years, and our plan is to walk away. Even if you take out the fact that this now takes another step closer to normalizing homosexuality, what you are missing is the following: After a two year study, in 2012, the BSA reaffirmed that their current policy was in the best interest of the boys. Only after activists put pressure on corporate sponsors did the new board members decide that they wanted BSA's values to align with their corporate "non-discrimination" policies. The BSA suddenly decided that their principles were for sale to the highest bidder. And this IS NOT over. Check out every story written immediately after the decision came down. Organizations like the United Way and corporate sponsors will not return until the BSA admits openly gay leaders. This is very likely to happen in the next two years, because changing the membership policy meant nullifying the reason that the Supreme Court gave for allowing the policy to stand as it was. Do you honestly think you won't see a little asterisk next to the word "God" in the oath within ten years? Because the activists want to turn it into a completely secular organization, and the courts are going to back them. It has already been shown that we are unable to change the organization from within. I don't have the millions of dollars the corporate sponsors have. Our new principles are what AT&T and Ernst&Young decide they should be.

  9. Justine of SewCountryChick

    My daughter joined a GS scout troop at her Catholic school. While I could find no evidence of any sort of political agenda in any of the literature for her age group,10, I can see how they get politicized for teens. But most girls realize how goofy girl scouts are way before that age. She did enjoy a year in The American Heritage Girls when she was 8 and they are like how GS used to be. But do you really think Juliette Gordon Low wouldn't mind the GSA are in bed with Planned Parenthood? I don't.

  10. James B

    Am I missing something here? What in the Girl Scout law is contrary to Catholic teaching or is any different from the Boy Scout oath?

    Second, many of the more "explicit" materials you linked to seem designed to encourage girls to NOT engage in sexual activity. Furthermore, relationship abuse IS, unfortunately, an issue for many teen girls. I don't see what is so bad about discussing it. I think it says more about the state of modern girlhood than the state of Girl Scouts.

    Our parish school has a Girl Scout troop, and has had one before I went here. Ironically, we live in such a conservative area of the country (and one with very few Catholics) that people haven't seen a need for an alternative. Our bishop is leading the investigation of the national organization for the USCCB.

    • Kendra

      It is Girl Scout policy that members may substitute anything they please for the word "God" in the Girl Scout Promise, not so with the Boy Scout Oath. So I'd argue that the issue is with what's NOT in there.

      "The state of modern girlhood" is not something that exists in my home or in those of my daughters' friends. It's not something that I will allow the Girl Scouts to thrust upon my family.

      If my girls were to participate in a parish Girl Scout troop it would be with the understanding that there would be zero contact with central leadership. No conventions, no camps, no conferences. At that point all I'm doing is fundraising for an organization that supports things like worldwide access to abortion, contraception, and sterilization. That doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

      We've been really happy with our little grass roots Little Flowers group. Less expensive, less hassle, all the fun.

    • James B

      The two oaths are virtually identical. The Boy Scouts do not define "God" either. The only difference is that the Boy Scouts emphasize family beliefs, while the Girl Scouts emphasize individual beliefs. Either both are compatible with Catholic belief or neither is. Both organizations are non-sectarian.

      Girl Scout Promise:

      On my honor, I will try:
      To serve God* and my country,
      To help people at all times,
      And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

      Boy Scout Oath:

      On my honor, I will do my best
      To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
      To help other people at all times;
      To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

    • Kendra

      There is an asterisk next to God in the Girl Scout Promise. There is NOT an asterisk next to God in the Boy Scout Oath. I have read through dozens of documents from both the Boy and Girl Scout organizations, I link in the post above to where the Girl Scouts specifically state that the use of the word God is optional. I have never seen such a sentiment expressed by the Boy Scouts. If you have different information, please link to something official so I can see it. Until then, I'm going to continue to strongly disagree with you. But thanks for stopping by.

  11. Anonymous

    Much of what you said I agree with, but like James B, I'm puzzled as to why you're so upset about the discussion of abusive relationships. We live in a fallen world, and sadly this IS an issue that many women and girls face. Teaching teenage girls how to recognize the signs of a potentially abusive relationship, teaching them that such relationships are NOT okay and how to get out of those situations isn't wrong. I agree it's not appropriate for the younger girls, but high school age girls need to hear this.

    Just my $0.02. I was never a Girl Scout and I don't have any kids, so I don't really have a dog in this fight.

    • Kendra

      It's because I don't need Girl Scouting to surrogate parent my daughters. I really think its dubious as to whether any girls would be benefitted by such a class, or whether they wouldn't be better served by a different kind of intervention, but I am proposing that for my family and for other devout Catholic families I know, this isn't an area I need Girl Scouting to step in and take over for me.

    • James B

      Don't think because you are a "devout Catholic family" that relational abuse cannot happen in your daughters' circles.

      Second, part of abuse awareness is to recognize abuse when it is happening in the lives of OTHERS. I'm sure you are teaching your daughters well, but not every parent is. Teenage girls will share with their friends what they won't share with their parents and your daughters may be the first ones to spot problems in the lives of a friend.

      Finally, they won't remain at home forever. I think this is the big philosophical difference between you and I. I know far too many children who were sheltered from "modern girlhood" and "modern boyhood" by well-meaning parents. Unfortunately, they were ill equipped to deal with the problems when they left home and had to deal with the wider world with no parental support. Some made bad decisions because of this. Others saw Christianity as a handicap that left them unable to deal with the world. These are the ones who post the most the most militantly secular items on my facebook feed.

    • Kendra

      I am really fortunate in my circle of friends to have many great examples of parents who are doing it right and have produced happy, well adjusted young adults. I'm going to continue to follow their example and trust that my children will turn out happy and well adjusted. I'm not going to expect the worst and farm out my parenting responsibilities to outsiders.

    • James B

      And my wife and I see part of our parenting responsibilities as knowing our limitations in being able to give our children all that they need to be happy and well-adjusted adults.

      We are two imperfect people with our own blind spots, prejudices, dislikes, and experiences. Our children NEED perspectives that we cannot give them. To protect our children from the world around them by hiding it from them would be failing in our parental responsibilities.

    • Kendra

      Hey, we're all stumbling through this parenting thing the best we can, but to equate Girl Scouts with exposure to the world around them and no Girl Scouts with utter sheltering is a pretty huge leap wouldn't you say?

      My guess is that this is the only post you've read on my blog. If you're looking for ideas for how to engage kids with the world, why not poke around a bit more. I've got posts on traveling to Europe, sports, liturgical celebrations, music, books, movies, parties, all sorts of fun stuff.

      I have chosen to involve my girls with the Little Flowers Girls Club instead of Girl Scouts, because as their mother I think it's a better option for them. It surprises me that this is so very troubling to you.

    • James B

      And you are lucky to have Little Flowers.

      We do not. Catholics are a very small percentage of the area population. Around here it is Girl Scouts or nothing.

      What IS troubling to me is that several Catholic women in our parish have raised several Eagle Scouts, but refuse to let their daughters do Girl Scouts. With no alternative, they are unintentionally sending some very negative messages to their daughters. What they are unintentionally saying is that being Catholic and female means their options are limited.

    • Kendra

      We have Little Flowers because I sent out an email to a few other families and went to Ecco Homo Press and bought some books and sashes and badges. I make my own luck ;0)

      But running a Little Flowers Girls' Club has been very easy and very rewarding.

      And as to your other point, I would argue that the lesson those girls are learning is that they are precious. There are all sorts of things in the world I'll never do because I'm Catholic and female, and thank God for that. But there are SO many other things I have that the world can't even dream of. God is so good.

      I am confident that you are making the decisions that you believe are best for your family. If you are comfortable with your daughters being in the Girl Scouts, then so be it. I was a Girl Scout myself. But please save your pity for those of us who choose not to involve ourselves in an organization that we believe does not have the best interests of our daughters at heart.

  12. Anonymous

    I'm glad I stumbled upon this post– I've considered writing one similar, as to why we're sticking with BSA.

    One of the big arguments people seem to make is that "they see the writing on the wall" and that they know what's going to happen with the gay lobby taking over. You know what? If all the strong Catholics cut ties and run, then, yes, they're right. If we all leave BSA, there will be a vaccuum. If there is a gay scout in your troop, I would want him to be around strong men who know their Catholic faith, and can spread God's mercy through it. If they are not there, that doesn't happen.

    Our parish also has Venture Scouts and Sea Scouts, two branches of BSA that are co-ed. The bottom line in scouting, any branch of it, is that sexuality does not have a place in scouting. Period. If you have a homosexual kid hitting on other boys, he's going to be kicked out. If you find two of your venture scouts in the woods "canoodling", same thing. Honestly, I'm more concerned that my boys will encounter porn or ranchy stories from other hetero scouts.

    If we are to be a part of the New Evangelization, then we can't run away from every fight. BSA is not a Catholic organization, or even a Christian one for that matter. This is what going out into the marketplace and spreading the Gospel is about. Years ago, a couple of my nephews had a gay kid in their troop. They said it was no. big. deal. They said he was a good kid, and though he finished his requirements, he couldn't earn Eagle because he was known to be gay.

    We've also been blessed to have an American Heritage Girl's troop at our parish, and it was nice while they still were aligned with BSA. Any of these groups striking out on their own without the help of the BSA's 100+ year history is going to have an uphill battle.

  13. Maria

    I recently felt compelled to open a friend's eyes about Girl Scouts and their agenda. She was nonplussed and I thought I might have lost a friend, even though I was gentle and tactful. Several days later she called to THANK ME, as she had no idea. I only wish our area had more options for young Catholics, period.

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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