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Women and Girls in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA)

Organization Names 1972 Scouting/USA logo

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was incorporated on 8 February 1910, and has maintained that corporate name to the present day, even though it has gradually welcomed girls at all age levels. For a brief period (1972 to about 1990), BSA used the 'communications name' Scouting/USA, but still retained the official corporate name. I imagine that objections from the Girl Scouts of the USA encouraged BSA to quietly drop the Scouting/USA term. In February, 2019, the Scout section of the BSA was renamed from 'Boy Scouting' to 'Scouts BSA' (which fits with Cub Scouts BSA, Sea Scouts BSA, and Venturing BSA), but the overall organization remains the Boy Scouts of America.

The girls' version of Boy Scouting was named Girl Guiding by its Founders (Baden-Powell and his sister Agnes) to distinguish the girls program from the boys program, and that is the most common name today for girl-only programs around the world. When Juliette Gordon 'Daisy' Low started the US girls program in 1912, she named it Girl Guides of America. But after a year of limited growth as Girl Guides, Low decided to rename her American organization Girl Scouts, causing confusion among donors and the general public about the two unrelated national "Scouting" programs ever since. While BSA and GSUSA (Girl Scouts of the USA) have discussed areas of mutual interest, and even mumbled about merging, the two organizations share a century-long history of non-cooperation. So they have separate national headquarters, separate local councils, separate professional staffs, separate camping properties, and separate programs & units; and they solicit donations and support for "Scouting" separately.

Timeline of Girls and Adult Women in the Boy Scouts of America

Remaining Gender Discrimination in the BSA


Some questions & answers about girls in the BSA (PDF)

For more information about Scouting in the US, see Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

For information about Guiding [Girl Scouts] in the US, see Girl Scouts of the USA.

For information on Camp Fire and other alternatives to Scouting, see our Scout-like Organizations page.


Last Revision to This Page: 24 June 2021
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