Girl Scouts turns girls into leaders

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In response to Amir Arnold Gharbi's op-ed ("Admit Girls as Boy Scouts: Girl Scouts Is Separate But Not Equal in Teaching Leadership," Aug. 6): Mr. Gharbi is clearly unaware that Girl Scouts is the premiere leadership organization for girls. We have been supporting girls' leadership development since Juliette Gordon Low assembled the first troop in 1912.

The proof that the Girl Scout Leadership Experience works is in the achievements of our alumnae. Many of our country's most accomplished women were Girl Scouts: 80 percent of women business owners, 69 percent of female U.S. senators, 67 percent of female members of the House of Representatives and virtually every female astronaut who has flown in space. Perhaps Mr. Gharbi's daughters' greatest disadvantage is not that they can't be Boy Scouts, but that they were not Girl Scouts.

Similar to Eagle Scouts, girls who achieve their Gold Award -- the highest achievement in Girl Scouting -- distinguish themselves in the college-admissions process, earn college scholarships and enter the military one rank higher. Beyond those individual benefits, however, girls who earn the Gold Award create positive and lasting change in their communities. Our Gold Award recipients have taken action to address many community issues, including developing a procedure to reduce staph infections in hospitals, helping children become more active, building community playgrounds and creating programs to end bullying.

Mr. Gharbi's true intention for admitting girls to Boy Scouts was apparent when he cited declining membership. By stating that "recruiting girls to scouting could simultaneously recruit their parents and brothers," he reveals that he is less interested in girls' leadership development, and more interested in using them as a recruitment tool.

Girls' leadership potential thrives in an all-girl environment, away from school pressures, social cliques and boys. In Girl Scouts, a girl is free to try many different leadership roles and grow into the ones that fit her best. Would she have that same opportunity in Boy Scouts? Not if she's there merely because she has brothers.

At Girl Scouts, we are not preparing girls to "lead other warriors." Instead, we are preparing a generation of leaders who lead out of principle rather than pride and who seek out the work that needs doing in the world.

PATRICIA A. BURKART
North Shore
Chief Executive Officer, Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania


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