Tough cookies, a Manhattan federal judge told the Girl Scouts on Thursday as he tossed a lawsuit complaining that the Boy Scouts’ decision to go gender neutral hurts the the girl organization’s brand.
Judge Alvin Hellerstein said in a 29-page decision that the Boy Scout organization was well within its rights to use the broad term “Scouting” to market itself without putting the word “boy” before it.
Hellerstein said it didn’t matter that some parents looking to enroll their daughters in the Girl Scouts mistakenly signed them up in the newly-gender neutral Boy Scouts organization.
“The Boy Scouts adopted the Scout Terms to describe accurately the co-ed nature of programming, not to confuse or exploit Girl Scouts’ reputation,” Hellerstein wrote.
“The Boy Scouts’ decision to become co-ed, even if it affects Girl Scouts’ operations, does not demonstrate bad faith.”
Hellerstein said the examples of parents mistakenly signing their child up for the wrong group were “anecdotal.”
The Girl Scouts of the United States of America sued the Boy Scouts of America in 2018, saying it wrongfully crossed the gender line by poaching potential female members from its organization.
The Girl Scouts alleged that the Boy Scouts use of the gender-neutral term “Scout” to refer to its members and its new slogan “Scout Me In” would “marginalize” the Girl Scouts’ brand.
The “serious, contentious and expensive litigation,” as Hellerstein referred to it in the ruling, wound its way through the court until Thursday.
The Boy Scouts continue to market the experience to any child, with photos of beaming girls and boys gracing its website, Scouting.org, and all its membership options stating clearly that it is co-ed.
Both groups have suffered membership declines in recent years.
Neither the Boy Scouts nor the Girl Scouts immediately responded to a request for comment.
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