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Girl Scouts Accuse Boy Scouts Of Poaching Recruits. Boy Scouts Accuse Girl Scouts Of Starting ‘Ground War’
Starter Elyas Balta, at left, smiles as a Girl Scout celebrates an early victory at the combined Cub Scout/Girl Scout Pinewood Derby races at St. Norbert Catholic School in Orange Saturday.
Kevin Sullivan/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The Girl Scouts of the United States of America claimed in court documents that the Boy Scouts of America are engaging in a “highly damaging” recruitment war that is poaching potential members. In response, the Boy Scouts, which is currently rebranding to become Scouts BSA and allow girls to join, claimed the Girl Scouts has launched a “ground war.”

The New York Post reported that the feud between the two organizations began years ago when the Cub Scouts announced that girls would be accepted into the organization starting in 2018. In 2019, the Boy Scouts announced it would rebrand to become a gender-neutral organization and also accept girls.

The Girl Scouts sued, alleging trademark infringement. Last month, the Post reported, the Boy Scouts filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, saying it was “utterly meritless.” On Thursday, the Girl Scouts responded to the filing, claiming the Boy Scouts have been poaching potential recruits by using the terms “scout, scouts, scouting, scouts BSA and scout me in” partially helped cause an “explosion of confusion” in recruitment, which was “extraordinary and highly damaging to Girl Scouts.”

“As a result of Boy Scouts’ infringement, parents have mistakenly enrolled their daughters in Boy Scouts thinking it was Girl Scouts,” the filing on behalf of the Girl Scouts says. The attorneys for the Girl Scouts wrote such confusion didn’t occur prior to the Boy Scouts changing their name to Scouts BSA and started allowing girls to join.

Included in the Girl Scouts’ response is evidence of “rampant instances of confusion and mistaken instances of association between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” wherein the Boy Scouts had to return registration fees to parents who thought they were signing their daughters up for the Girl Scouts. The Post, however, noted that the fees were returned in “less than a tenth of local Scout councils.”

The Girl Scouts claimed in court that the Boy Scouts said the confusion was due to isolated incidents of mistaken marketing, an argument the Girl Scouts dismissed.

“According to Boy Scouts, blame for the rampant marketplace confusion lies at everyone’s feet but its own,” the girl scouts wrote in their filing.

The Boy Scouts responded to the latest filing in a statement, accusing the Girl Scouts of starting a “ground war.”

“To imply that confusion is a prevailing reason for their choice is 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 since the programs became available to them,” the statement said.

The Post reported that membership for both organizations has declined in recent years, with the Boy Scouts reporting 2.2 million members, a third as many as its record membership in 1972, while the Girl Scouts have just 1.7 million members, down from its highest membership year in 2003. The BBC reported that the Girl Scouts accused the Boy Scouts of accepting girls to increase its declining membership.

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