Should we continue to segregate the sexes in scouts and sports? | KUOW News and Information

Should we continue to segregate the sexes in scouts and sports?

Oct 17, 2017

Sex segregation is the default in sports, but why?

Nancy Leong advocates against sex segregation, saying it doesn't make sense. Take T-ball leagues for four year-olds. Girls play on separate teams, though it’s not clear why.

In Leong's essay, "Against Women’s Sports," the University of Denver law professor calls for an end to sex segregation in sports.

“We don’t do a good job of asking what is the purpose of the sport,” she said. “Is it necessary in sports for boys and girls to be segregated?”

So when the Boy Scouts of America announced it will allow girls to join troops, Leong applauded the move.

But now she’s having second thoughts.

Leong said there's a generalization in social activities, including sports, that boys are better at the activity. The perception seems to be that girls do a version that’s not as competitive.

Leong thinks this kind of thinking could extend to the Boy Scouts as well.

“What we don’t want to do here is create a situation where it looks like the Boy Scouts are admitting girls, so the best or most qualified are going to do Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts become kind of this Junior Varsity version of the Boy Scouts,” said Leong.

Rob McKenna, executive board member of the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said integration won’t create a new tier. He said Boy Scouts have had coed programs for decades and have existed fine with the Girl Scouts. This new decision is a result of parents asking for it.

“In fact, I have a board member who has two Eagle Scouts and he asked, why can’t my daughter become an Eagle Scout,” McKenna said.

It will take several years before girls are integrated into Boy Scouts. McKenna said for the next several years, girls who want to be in the Boy Scouts will have their own troops, but they’ll have access to everything that scouting has to offer.