Yes

When I think “girl,” I think strong. I think willing. Brave. Capable. Resilient. I think of climbing mountains and jumping off bluffs into rapid waters. Qualities that I also associate with boys. Qualities that really belong to anyone willing to embrace them. My mom is a Boy Scout leader to both of my younger brothers, and since they were 6-year-olds, they were taught how to tie knots, camp, manage money and help the community. At that age in my Girl Scout troop, all I knew how to do was cut strips of felt and tie them together to make blankets and sell cookies to my neighbors. Activities like community service and wilderness survival don’t discriminate between genders. Boy Scouts took the right step in achieving gender neutrality when it comes to children learning life skills.

The Boy Scouts of America already has co-ed opportunities with their Venturing Crew and Sea Scouts, so obviously, it’s possible for girls and boys to come together to improve themselves and impact the world. In general, kids are funneled into stereotypes of who they should be based on their gender. That’s evident with one stroll through Target’s toy section with one wall decked out with hot pink barbie dolls and the other with macho superhero action figures. Both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are guilty of continuing these stereotypes, with Girl Scouts excessively focusing on emotional and social values like friend groups with younger troops and Boy Scouts holding patriarchal values too close, being strictly religious. The inclusion of girls into Boy Scouts can patch up some holes in each program and, ideally, eliminate the need for a girls or boys only scouting program.

Of course, it’s important to have separate communities within the now girls-inclusive Boy Scouts on occasion to share similar struggles in an understanding environment, but as far as activities and learning go, girls and boys should go through them together. There’s no reason a girl shouldn’t know how to start a fire or a boy how to set goals and work on personal growth. Kids are kids; let’s stop putting them into categories that don’t adequately suit their true character. Straight from the Boy Scout Oath, to be a Scout is “To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” Girls and boys working and learning together in Boy Scouts will better prepare them for living in the real world as adults, and the opportunity for girls to join is a giant step in the right direction for social gender neutrality.