The Boy Scouts are no more.

The organization, once well known for helping shape boys into good men, allowed girls to join in 2017. Now the group is going a step further, announcing its new name as of February will be Scouting America.

What a loss for Americans—both men and women.

In recent days, we’ve seen examples of good American men. Fraternity brothers at University of North Carolina Chapel Hill protected the American flag from pro-Palestinian protesters.

And Mario Torres, a 45-year-old custodian at Columbia University, said he tried to “protect the building”’ and ended up in a physical altercation with a protester. “He had a Columbia hoodie on, and I managed to rip that hoodie off of him and expose his face,” Torres told The Free Press.

Mario Torres, a Columbia University custodian, grabs a demonstrator who attempted to barricade himself in the school’s Hamilton Hall on April 30 in New York City. (Photo: Alex Kent/Getty Images)

Unfortunately, though, our modern culture largely doesn’t value manly virtues—or men.

It would be one thing to see the further gender neutralizing of the Boy Scouts of America if the boys and men of America were thriving. But they are not.

Fewer men than women attend college. Among men deemed prime working age, those ages 25 to 54, 11.4% were not in the workforce as of 2022, according to the San Francisco Fed. That’s up from 5.8% in 1976.

“In 2020, only 25% of men ages 17-24 … qualified for military service; the majority were disqualified for being overweight, having issues with drug abuse, for mental health and medical/physical reasons, or for a combination of those factors,” writes Brenda Hafera, a senior policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation’s Simon Center for American Studies. (The Daily Signal was established by The Heritage Foundation in 2014.)

The data doesn’t suggest that men are happy with the status quo. In the United States, around four times as many men die by suicide as women do. Men are two to three times as likely to die of a drug overdose than women. They’re also more likely to binge drink or be hospitalized in relation to alcohol use. Among men ages 18 to 45, a horrifying 44% have thought of suicide in the past two weeks, according to a 2023 Equimundo survey  

“Many of the young men who came to see me were struggling,” writes Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., in his book “Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs,” recalling his time working as law professor. “Some lacked confidence, some lacked direction; others could not seem to get motivated.”

 “They were afraid to fail, to venture out and take a risk, but felt at the same time dissatisfied with their lives as they knew them,” Hawley continues. “One after another said … I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with my life. And yet they felt they were failing at whatever that was.”

Perhaps the politically correct expungement of male-only spaces is part of the reason why men are struggling so. 

In recent decades, even as women-only spaces have remained popular (and accepted), male organizations have drifted into inclusivity. Richard V. Reeves, who heads the American Institute for Boys and Men, notes that that the Boys Clubs of America became co-ed in 1990. Reeves adds: “In 1978, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) banned all gender discrimination, and now focuses on the wellbeing of children, young people and the wider community with no specific orientation towards boys or men.” A total of 25 women’s colleges exist, but for men, only three single-sex colleges remain.

Why are we so against these men-only spaces?

As a woman, I’ve long valued female-only spaces. Attending a conservative Catholic college, I lived in a women-only dorm. Men darkened the doors only to fix things and even then, like lepers of old alerting townspeople with a bell, they had to bellow “man in the dorm” at regular intervals to make clear their intrusion.

It was fantastic: The dorm truly became a refuge, a place where I and other women were free to commiserate, study, and have fun together in a way many of our romance-addled brains could not quite manage when our crushes were potentially present.

Post-college, I’ve appreciated girls’ nights and girls’ trips with friends. I’ve been grateful for those moments of unique solidarity I’ve sometimes found with female colleagues, some of them fellow journalists.

Why should men be denied these joys, these delightful moments of shared understanding and interests?

A 1965 portrait promoting Boy Scouts of America. (Photo: Dennis Hallinan/Contributor/Getty Images)

Furthermore, there’s real evidence that the Boy Scouts, in its male-only incarnation, did help boys become good men. In 2012, Baylor University researchers compared Eagle Scouts—the highest level of Boy Scouts—to non-scouts and found that Eagle Scouts were:

  • 34% more likely to have donated to a nonreligious charity in the past month.
  • 53% more likely to have donated to a religious charity.
  • 62% more likely to have volunteered for a nonreligious organization.
  • 56% more likely to have worked with a neighbor to address a problem or improve the community.
  • 55% more likely to have held a leadership position in their workplace.

In addition to these findings, which showed how Eagle Scouts truly contribute to their communities, Baylor researchers also found evidence that Eagle Scouts enjoyed better social relationships than their peers. Compared to non-scouts, Eagle Scouts were 38% more likely to be close with siblings, 37% more likely to be close with friends, and 87% more likely to belong to four or more groups.

That’s important—because too many men these days lack crucial social support.

Among men, 15% had no close friends in 2021, up from 3% who said so in 1990. That’s significantly higher than the percentage of women who say they have no close friends (10%), according to The Survey Center on American Life, a project of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. Over half of men are unhappy with the size of their friend circle.

About a quarter of younger men (ages 18 to 45) said they saw no friends or family during the past week, and 22% said they had no one locally they are close to or could depend on, according to a 2023 Equimundo survey. Almost half of these younger men said they found their online lives more fulfilling than their actual lives, while about 60% said they viewed porn once or more a week.

So, sure, let’s kill one organization that had successfully helped men socialize with each other.

Of course, the Boy Scouts of America isn’t a perfect organization. The revelations about the organization’s sexual abuse crisis have been horrifying. Far too many boys weren’t protected from predators. A lawsuit was settled for $850 million in 2022 after tens of thousands of men said they had been abused as Boy Scouts.

And although the Boy Scouts laudably resisted much of the woke culture longer than many, they too waved the white flag. In 2011, Kathleen Arnn, writing in the Claremont Review of Books, compared the 2009 Boy Scout Handbook with the original from 1910.

“[D]ecades of aggressive political correctness have had their effect, and the Scouts have lost some of the confident American boyishness that loves heroes and makes for heroes,” wrote Arnn.

The original Boy Scott Handbook told boys: “A good Scout must be chivalrous” and “[H]e should be as manly as the knights or pioneers of old. He should be unselfish. He should show courage. He must do his duty.”

The handbook also profiled American heroes, including George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone, Johnny Appleseed, and even Betsy Ross.

But by 2009, the “chapter on Chivalry has been completely removed,” wrote Arnn, adding: “American heroes, so numerous and colorful in the original handbook, are almost absent. Washington and Lincoln are each mentioned one time.”

A prepared Boy Scout in the 1920s practices first aid on a Wirehaired Terrier dog. (Photo: H. Armstrong Roberts/Classicstock/Getty Images)

Perhaps someone can resurrect a new version of the old Boy Scouts, complete with the old handbook. Or start an entirely new organization, one that cultivates manly virtues in a boys-only space.

But what’s clear is we need to do more to support our boys and men. No (sane) feminist benefits when men fail; this isn’t a zero-sum game. Both men and women lead happier lives when men are living up to their potential, holding down jobs, and being great husbands and dads.

Our current society isn’t working for men. It’s time to change it—and bring back, for both boys and men, male-only spaces where they can connect and, hopefully, flourish.