Knoxville Girl Scouts leaders, parents not enthused by Boy Scouts’ gender decision

KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WATE) – The Boy Scouts will soon welcome girls in their ranks, but what does this mean for the Girl Scouts, an organization formed in 1912, at a time when women could not vote nor join the Boy Scouts?

“I think it would be a shame for girls to think that the only way you can be successful is to be a Boy Scout because that’s certainly not true,” Lynne Fugate, CEO of the Girl Scouts Council of the Southern Appalachians.

Fugate’s chapter of 10,523 girls and 5,357 adult members serves 46 counties from Southwest Virginia through East Tennessee. She said from her experience, she believes that children are better served when separated in their gender-specific groups.

Previous story: In historic change, Boy Scouts to let girls in some programs

“Research shows that boys and girls grow and mature differently, and there is great value for same-sex organizations for children,” Fugate said. “My sons are Eagle Scouts. I appreciate what they got and they very much enjoyed being a part of an all-boy environment. Their experience would have been different had there been girls.”

Tamara Boyer, a mom of a Girl Scout, agrees.

“I was shocked, actually, and surprised,” Boyer said. “I think that it is valuable to have a Girl Scout organization and a Boy Scout organization. I think when one tries to pull from the other, we become competitors instead of standalones that have the same mission.”

Her daughter grew up a Girl Scout, even earning her Gold Award, Girl Scouts’ highest honor. Boyer said her daughter’s scouting experience helped shaped the person she is today.

“Girl Scouts has been amazing for her,” Boyer said. “It has been a life-long experience. She started in first grade, went all the way through 12th grade, and it’s helped make her who she is.”

With Girl Scouts alumnae representing 75 percent of U.S. female Senators and every female Secretary of State in U.S. History, Fugate said she’s hopeful that the track record of the Girl Scouts organization will continue to keep girls coming back.

And so far, they are. At the local level, the numbers for the Southern Appalachians Girl Scouts chapter rose seven percent in just the last year.

“Our message is resonating with parents, that this is a great place for their daughters to be,” Fugate said. “We’re growing, so I’m not going to be concerned with what another organization chooses to do.”

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