How the Boy Scout Decision Could Impact the U.S. Military


Yesterday the Boy Scouts of America announced that they will now accept girls.

Because our military families are closely tied to the Boy Scouts of America, and many of our sons are enrolled in Boy Scouts, this has caused quite a discussion in the military community. Four military families live on my street alone, and almost all of them have a son in Scouts.

When my cousin pinned on Eagle Scout, the highest achievement for a Scout, I remember thinking I would love to do that. I quickly learned I couldn’t.

That was, perhaps, the moment when I realized that the world of boys is very different from the world of girls. The same opportunities just did not exist for me.

The Boy Scouts of America has had temporary integrated programs since 1971, but yesterday’s announcement that they will begin accepting girls will pave the way for American girls to learn field craft, service and earn the coveted Eagle Scout badge.

I have been writing about the integration of women into all combat arms branches within our military for some time. Each time I write such an article, I think about the Boy Scouts and how they are linked in many ways to our nation’s military.

Service is a way of life for a Scout. Many of our Presidents, military generals and the CEOs of our largest and most successful companies are Eagle Scouts. As I wrote I would wonder why women cannot be in the Scouts. If girls could be Scouts, I would think, more American girls would be interested in military service.

Most other nations, that possess a national scouting program, including England, do not exclude girls, they simply have Scouts. In fact, the only countries that exclude girls from scouting are: Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan.

The Boy Scouts of America has stated that it is responding to an overwhelming request from girls and families to provide a place for girls in the program. The organization also states that it sought the counsel of current Scouts, and Pack Leaders while making this historic decision.

I see this as another falling barrier, not unlike the day women were permitted to join the U.S. military or any other milestone for equal treatment. 

Lately those barriers have been falling at a fast clip, and I hope this trend continues.

The Boy Scout Law is:

"A Scout Is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent."

Today, American boys and girls can now aspire to this fine standard.

It is amazing to me that it took this long.


Shelly Burgoyne-Goode was commissioned as an Army Officer in December 2002 from the University of Arizona. Shelly deployed to Iraq in November of 2003 and again in 2004 as a Platoon Leader; she led numerous combat re-supply convoys throughout Baghdad and the greater Iraq area. Post military service, Shelly is very involved in Veteran Advocacy, and completed her graduate degree on the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the University of Maryland. She was also awarded the prestigious Tillman Military Scholar scholarship and volunteers with the Pat Tillman Foundation and Team Rubicon. Shelly is married to an active duty soldier and lives in Washington, D.C.

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