A running feud between two massive youth organizations reached a new level after the Girl Scouts filed a lawsuit over the Boy Scouts’ decision to change its name.
The Boy Scouts of America announced earlier in the year that it would change the name of its flagship program for middle and high school youth to ‘Scouts BSA,” and would begin admitting girls to both that program and the younger Cub Scout program, NPR reported. The Boy Scouts of America would still be the overall parent organization and would retain its name.
But the Girl Scouts say dropping “boy” from the Boy Scouts program will damage the Girl Scouts brand and cause confusion, according to the Associated Press. The organization filed a trademark violation lawsuit in New York challenging it.
“Parents interested in signing up for Girl Scouts programs have instead mistakenly signed up for the new girls’ programs offered by BSA,” the complaint said, according to the AP. It said the BSA “does not have a right under either federal or New York law to use terms like scouts or scouting by themselves in connection with services offered to girls, or to rebrand itself as ‘the Scouts,’” the AP reported.
The programs, both of which have struggled to reverse declines in enrollment, erupted into an outright feud after the Boy Scouts made a landmark decision in October of 2017 to begin admitting girls to their programs.
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, said at the time.
The Girl Scouts accused the program of being “reckless” in a “covert campaign” to recruit girls, the Washington Post reported.
Girl Scouts president Kathy Hannah wrote that the Girl Scout leaders were “confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls,” Buzzfeed News reported.
Since then, roughly 3,000 girls have signed up to participate in the Cub Scouts, according to the Associated Press. The Boy Scouts of America plans to open up the former Boy Scout program to girls sometime in early 2019, which would allow them to earn the Eagle Scout medal, the AP reported.
The Boy Scouts said they were reviewing the lawsuit carefully, CBS News reported.
“We applaud every organization that builds character and leadership in children, including the Girl Scouts of the USA, and believe that there is an opportunity for both organizations to serve girls and boys in our communities.” the organization wrote, according to the station.
The Scouts said they did what they had to do.
“We did what any brand, company, corporation, or organization would do to protect its intellectual property, the value of its brand in the marketplace, and to defend its good name,” the Girl Scouts said in a statement, CNBC reported.