Law & the Courts

Girl Scouts Sue Boy Scouts over Gender-Inclusive Rebranding, Alleging Recruitment Confusion

BSA leader John Stemberger speaks during the national Scouting homosexuality controversy in Orlando, Florida March 23, 2013. (David Manning/Reuters)

Lawyers for the Girl Scouts claimed in a court filing on Thursday that a recruitment drive by the Boy Scouts was “highly damaging” to the Girl Scouts.

The Boy Scouts renamed itself Scouts BSA and removed the word “boy” from their recruitment materials in 2018, when the organization decided to open certain programs for female participants. (The new Boy Scouts programs for girls remain separate from the boys-only programs.)

However, the Girl Scouts filed suit against the organization in November 2018 over trademark concerns, contending in the suit that the Boy Scouts’ rebranding would be “uniquely damaging” to Girl Scout operations. In the latest filing in the suit, the Girl Scouts asserted that Scouts BSA recruitment efforts caused confusion among parents who wished to send their daughters to Girl Scouts.

“For the last century, the Girl Scouts trademark has become understood to designate the source of scouting services for girls,” court documents reviewed by the BBC stated. “Now, because of what Boy Scouts has done, that distinctiveness is being slowly eroded, and the law affords Girl Scouts a remedy to stop such a further loss of distinctiveness.”

Attorneys representing the Girl Scouts claim in the filing that the Boy Scouts’ gender-inclusive rebranding has led to “rampant” confusion among parents who are unsure which organization to send their children to.

While lawyers for the Girl Scouts claimed to have proof of such instances, the Boy Scouts denied such actions in a statement on Sunday evening and accused the Girl Scouts of starting a “ground war.”

The Girl Scouts’ allegations are “not only inaccurate—with no legally admissible instance of this offered to date in the case—but it is also dismissive of the decisions of more than 120,000 girls and young women who have joined Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA.”

The Girl Scouts boast roughly 1.7 million members, compared with 2.2 million Boy Scouts. In February of this year, the Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy after a number of sexual assault suits strained the organization’s finances.

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Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.