The Girl Scouts of the USA formally filed a federal lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America for trademark infringement, according to NPR.
This matter has been brewing since October when the Boy Scouts decided to make history by allowing girls to join the organization beginning in 2019. The Girl Scouts spoke out against the decision, saying the Boy Scouts were undertaking a “covert campaign” to recruit girls. The statement was released by Girl Scouts National President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan.
“We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls,” her statement said.
The Boy Scouts say they have received requests for years to admit girls into the program.
“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 youth in our communities,” the Boy Scouts said in an official statement.
The Girl Scouts filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on Tuesday. The suit says that the Boy Scouts are using trademarks that are “both new and uniquely damaging” to the Girl Scouts.
The lawsuit cites programs such as Scouts BSA, a Boy Scouts program that caters to both girls and boys aged 11 to 17. The Girl Scouts also named the “Scout Me In” program offered by the Boy Scouts.
The Girl Scouts also objected to the use of the word “scouts” without a gender-specific modifier.
“Such misconduct will not only cause confusion among the public, damage the goodwill of GSUSA’s GIRL SCOUTS trademarks, and erode its core brand identity, 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 ‘Scouting’ programs, but niche services with limited utility and appeal,” the official complaint reads.
The Boy Scouts say they have 2.4 million members. The Girl Scouts has 1.8 million girls in its organization. The Boy Scouts have had co-ed Exploring and Venturing programs since 1971, though they have greatly expanded their services for girls in the last month.
The Girl Scouts have asked for a jury trial in their lawsuit. The organization says it has already been harmed by the new gender-integration policy of the Boy Scouts, and that “throughout the country, families, schools, and communities have been told that GSUSA and BSA have merged, or even that GSUSA no longer exists,” according to NBC News.
“Parents interested in signing up for Girl Scouts programs have instead mistakenly signed up for the new girls’ programs offered by BSA,” the complaint says.