America's Boy Scouts Go Gender-Neutral, Get Sued by Girl Scouts for Stealing Their Thunder

girls scouts vs. boy scouts
Moonrise Kingdom | Focus Features
Moonrise Kingdom | Focus Features

Like with Fight Club, the first rule of Girl Scouts is a mandate for exclusivity. Don't talk about what happens in Girls Scouts. Don't think about talking about what happens in Girl Scouts. And also, no boys allowed. This is holy law. 

Last week, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) attempted to infringe on those very commandments with a ploy to rebrand as plain old "Scouts" and allow girls among their ranks. According to the Girl Scouts of America (GSA) -- a secret society of powerful, Thin Mint-dealing young women in uniform -- this is war. 

After announcing their plans to rebrand as gender-neutral on Tuesday, the GSA filed a 50-page lawsuit, claiming the boys' identity shift would steal their thunder by removing the core gender divide between the two organizations, according to a report by NPR. They're suing on the grounds that the rebrand counts as trademark infringement. And just you try to stop them. 

In a truly scathing letter leaked by BuzzFeed News last month after news of the planned change was made public, Girl Scouts National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan berated the Boy Scouts' president for conducting a "covert campaign" to recruit girls to their team. Not surprisingly, the girls were not ready to sacrifice their comrades just because Boy Scouts are woke now. 

In the language of the suit, the Girl Scouts accuse the Boy Scouts of using age-old, beloved trademarks in a way that is damaging rather than beneficial. "[The rebrand] will erode the group's core brand identity," the complaint reads. "But it will also marginalize the Girl Scouts movement by causing the public to believe that GSUSA's extraordinarily successful services are not true or official." In short, it's a way for the male population of young badge-tauting gremlins to take credit for the girl's success -- and take away from their exclusive community. Naturally, they're not going to take that one lying down. 

In a characteristically embittered response, the Boy Scouts released a statement in the wake of the suit claiming, “Our decision to expand our program offerings for girls came after years of requests from families who wanted the option of the BSA’s character- and leadership-development programs for their children -- boys and girls.” Ok, then. 

Along with infringement, the Girls Scouts claim that they've already suffered due to the boys' rebrand: Girls and their parents have been registering with the BSA under female-accepting groups as of late, believing that the respective organizations have merged -- or that the GSA no longer exists. Now, the Girl Scouts want to take back what's rightfully theirs.

It remains to be seen whether the case will make it to court. But for now, a note to the Boy Scouts: Maybe when they stop making 80 cents on the dollar, the Girl Scouts will want to help sell your popcorn. 

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Eliza Dumais was never a girl scout, but if she had been, she never would have joined the boy scouts, just FYI. She's also a news writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter.