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This month, five girls delivered a simple message to the Boy Scouts of America: they want to join, too.
The Northern California girls, aged 10 to 13—Allie Westover, Skyler Westover, Ella Jacobs, Daphne Mortenson, and Taylor Alcozer—call themselves the Unicorns, and are currently operating as an independent troop.
The girls attribute their interest in becoming Boy Scouts to a skills-building course, open to boys and girls, that they took last fall. According to the New York Times, Several of the girls had tried the Girl Scouts but found it didn’t give them the experience they wanted outdoors.
Nikki Van Ausdall, a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of Northern California, disagreed, telling the Times that outdoor experience “has really always been a hallmark of what we do.”
But it’s not as easy as just wanting to join. Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination by sex, outlines an exception for the Boy Scouts, who are allowed to deny membership because of gender. The Boy Scouts stated in an email that the “Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts are year-round programs for boys and young men.”
Some parents are concerned about the ideas of shared tents and the imposition on this “boys-only time.” Northern California scout leader Randy Huffman said that he thinks the girls could have achieved the same goal without crossing organizational lines.
“Maybe their approach should have been to go to the Girl Scouts and say: Instead of painting our nails and clipping our — whatever they do — to do archery and do climbing,” he said.
At a meeting on November 13 at the local Boy Scouts headquarters, the girls asked leaders to be made official Boy Scouts. The men on the panel agreed to forward their request to the national office.
Allie Westover stated after the meeting that she would “like to see them standing up like they did for the gay scouts and the gay leaders.”
Daphne Mortenson was less optimistic.
“It felt like they were saying no to us, but they didn’t want to say it with all the cameras,” the 10-year-old told the San Francisco Chronicle.
While the idea of girl Boy Scouts may seem far-fetched to the organization’s American leadership, it’s old news on the other side of the Atlantic. The Scout Association of the UK admitted its first female members 30 years ago, and is now fully co-ed.