Girl Scouts Suing Boy Scouts Over Leaving 'Boy' Out Of Their Name

Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts of the USA is suing the Boy Scouts of America for their plans to drop the word “Boy” from their name in 2019. The complaint the Girl Scouts filed stated that the Boy Scouts do not have the right to use "scouts" or "scouting,” and the Girl Scouts brand and their programs will be damaged if the Boy Scouts follow through with their plans. It also asserted, "Only GSUSA has the right to use the Girl Scouts and Scouts trademarks with leadership development services for girls.”

The lawsuit stated:

Throughout GSUSA’s history, it has coexisted with defendant BSA, which has long offered programs aimed at boys under the BOY SCOUTS trademark. Like the GIRL SCOUTS trademark, the BOY SCOUTS trademark is a symbol of youth development programs that, for more than a century, have been aimed at, led by and developed primarily for boys. 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.

However, that core gender distinction between the two organizations and their use of the term SCOUTS and variations thereof has been altered by BSA’s recent decision to offer all of its services to both boys and girls of all ages for the first time in its long history. Indeed, even though GSUSA and BSA have Congressional charters and separate grants of intellectual roperty rights that are specific to girls and boys, respectively, BSA is now using its trademarks in a manner that is both new and uniquely damaging to GSUSA, its trademarks and their underlying goodwill. In particular, given its significant programming shift, BSA is now trying to alter its core brand identity from BOY SCOUTS to SCOUTS, through the use of communicative elements like the slogan “Scout Me In” and the new name by which it will refer to its best known Boy Scout program – “Scouts BSA” with members being called “Scouts.”

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. Throughout the country, families, schools and communities have been told that GSUSA and BSA have merged, or even that GSUSA no longer exists. Parents interested in signing up for GIRL SCOUTS programs have instead mistakenly signed up for the new girls’ programs offered by BSA.”

In January 2017, The Boy Scouts of America said they would accept members based on their gender identity. The same year they announced girls could become Eagle Scouts. In May the organization said it was changing the program for children between the ages of 11 and 17 to Scouts USA.

Boy Scouts of America released a statement saying, "We applaud every organization that builds character and leadership in children, including the Girl Scouts of the USA, and believe that there is an opportunity for both organizations to serve girls and boys in our communities.”

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