matt-seymour-tx5TLn7T9nY-unsplashFew things sever any lingering connections to your childhood like the disillusionment with those things you once held in great esteem at that age. It's perhaps the root of much cynicism that people and organizations that ostensibly exist to support and nurture young people are eventually discovered to be flawed in ways great and small, and perhaps no organization embodies this more than the Boy Scouts of America. Once though of as a body that could instill positive values in young people, BSA has fallen far from that perch in the light of recent scandals, with the most damning being tens of thousands of claims of sexual abuse that came to light in recent bankruptcy filings.

For the purposes of this story, we will momentarily set aside such heavy matters to discuss a case that, while far less serious, further demonstrates how tarnished a once seemingly squeaky clean organization has become, and how far it has fallen in the estimation of the broader public.

The Girl Scouts have filed a suit against the Boy Scouts of America accusing the BSA of unfair practices and trademark infringement for recent changes to its marketing campaign. As reported by Neil Vigdor in the New York Times, the Boy Scouts have altered language in their marketing material to more gender-neutral terms in light of the organization's decision to admit girls into the Boy Scouts back in 2017. And while this might be a good step as far as inclusion, the Girl Scouts allege that including girls on the advertising material or referencing "girl scouting" is in violation of trademarks as well as the charger governing both organizations.

This current fight is part of an ongoing battle between the two organizations that dated back to the 2017 decision, as the Girl Scouts have accused the Boy Scouts of both infringement and generally interfering on their business by changing their admission guidelines. And while it's easy to understand why the Girls Scouts might feel aggrieved, it's also hard to see two organizations that espouse ideals of character get involved in petty squabbles, merited though they might be.

Given that membership in both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts has declined in recent years, it would seem that both organizations need a rethink in terms of mission and membership, and pointedly so for the Boy Scouts in light of its broad organizational failure to protect its members. However the trademark case is resolved, it won't be a matter of branding that will save either organization.