The Girl Scouts may be more often associated with Tagalongs than transgender activism, but that could soon change.
The Girl Scouts of Western Washington recently received a check for $100,000—nearly a quarter of the council’s annual financial assistance funding for girls who need scholarships.
But the gift—from a donor who has not been publicly identified—came with a condition: Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.
So the Girl Scouts did just that—they returned the check.
“Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to,” council CEO Megan Ferland told Seattle Met.
This is far from the first time Girl Scouts has stood up for transgender girls. In fact, the organization first made its acceptance of transgender members public four years ago on their FAQ page. In a May post on the official Girl Scouts blog, published in response to an American Family Association petition to make the Girl Scouts change their position, Chief Girl Expert Andrea Bastiani Archibald wrote,
There is not one type of girl. Every girl’s sense of self, path to it, and how she is supported is unique… If a girl is recognized by her family, school and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe.
In fact, Seattle Met reports, Ferland herself also fought for transgender and gender-nonconforming Girl Scouts back in 2012 when she headed the Colorado council. When a child who did not appear to fit gender stereotypes was first turned away from Girl Scouts, Ferland’s council issued a statement welcoming transgender youth as part of its commitment to inclusivity.
To make up for the loss of the donation, Girl Scouts of Western Washington launched an Indiegogo campaign Monday to raise $100,000. The campaign, which proclaims that “Girl Scouts is for EVERY girl” and includes numerous videos of Girl Scouts’ positive impact, met its goal—and then some—within its first day.
The vast majority of this financial assistance program, according to the last year’s breakdown, goes to helping girls attend camp programs.
The Girl Scouts’ acceptance of trans members comes at a time when the organization is under fire for its “progressive” values. Girl Scouts insists that it “[does] not discriminate or recruit on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, national origin, or physical or developmental disability,” which frustrates many conservatives. The organization was even attacked for tweeting a link to a Huffington Post article about the “2013 Women of the Year,” which included pro-choice advocate Wendy Davis. (For the record, Girl Scouts does not take a stance on birth control or abortion.)
But Girl Scouts’ willingness to embrace social change is nothing new for the 103-year-old group. In 1993, Girl Scout delegates voted overwhelmingly to allow members to substitute “God” with whatever words they wanted in the Girl Scout Promise in order to better represent the organization’s diversity. And in 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King called Girl Scouts “a force for desegregation” thanks to its drive for integration.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archives, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.