Girl Scouts sue Boy Scouts over name change to attract girls

Elias Hubbard
November 8, 2018

Thus, even though both GSUSA and BSA use the term SCOUTS as part of their core trademarks, the organizations are distinct, with one offering leadership programming developed for and aimed at girls, and the other offering programming developed for and aimed at boys.

The lawsuit added, "Since BSA's announcement that it would admit girls to its core programs, GSUSA's fears about the damage that would be caused to its trademarks and the mission those trademarks symbolize have been realized".

Confusion over which organization girls should join led to the Girls Scouts of Northern Illinois to lose more than 500 girls this year, the group said.

The dispute, filed November 6 in federal court in NY, centers on the use of the word "scout" without a gender modifier.

The Girl Scouts lawsuit charges that this has changed since the Boy Scouts chose to start admitting girls. These include buying advertisements on Google that pop up when a user searches for "Girl Scouts" and incorrectly telling parents, teachers and people in control of recruitment events that the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have merged. "We are 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", she wrote. The organization also recently launched a campaign called "Scout Me In".

This deprives Girl Scouts of membership dues, the lawsuit says, and may also hurt the Girl Scouts of the United States of America by associating it with a recent series of child sexual-abuse lawsuits against Boy Scouts of America.

In addition to confusing parents and kids alike, the rebranding is demoralizing and threatens to "marginalize" the Girl Scouts" "movement by causing the public to believe that GSUSA's extraordinarily successful services are not true or official "scouting' programs". The statement noted, "We applaud every organization that builds character and leadership in children, including the Girl Scouts of the U.S., and believe that there is an opportunity for both organizations to serve girls and boys in our communities".

The lawsuit in Manhattan federal court is an attempt by the Girl Scouts, founded in 1912, to avert an erosion of its brand and membership as the Boy Scouts, founded two years earlier, tries to reverse its own decades-long membership decline. For example, it says materials disseminated by the Boy Scouts feature a quote from the founder of the Girl Scouts. Girl Scouts says it has "1.8 million girl members". "Starting in 2018, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts", the organization wrote in October.

Since the Boy Scouts announced their new gender-inclusive policy, parents have gotten mixed messages from the media and scout troops alike. It also asserted, "Only GSUSA has the right to use the Girl Scouts and Scouts trademarks with leadership development services for girls". The organization has asked for a jury trial.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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