Girl Scouting and the UUA

Dashed off a letter to the UUA today.  Leaving off the official's name to whom I addressed it, the text of it was as follows:

I am writing to you as a Unitarian Universalist minister and as a Girl Scout Troop Leader and Girl Scout Troop Organizer. I’ve paid attention over many years to the “continuing struggle for inclusiveness” situation between the UUA and the Boy Scouts, as outlined at

I’m proud as a Girl Scout leader that Girl Scouts do not share the Boy Scouts’ discrimination towards atheist and agnostic scouts and troop leaders nor their discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender scouts and troop leaders. Indeed, I proudly tell my Brownie Girl Scouts on a regular basis that the Girl Scout Promise, which includes the word “God,” can be, according to Girl Scouts USA, replaced by any Girl Scout to reflect her own spiritual beliefs. I model this in my troop meetings by replacing the word “God” in the GS Promise with “love,” “earth,” “peace,” and another of other terms.

Similarly, Girl Scouts has recently been in the news for their inclusive policies on transgender Girl Scouts, and has come down on the side of believing that any child who considers herself a Girl and wants to be a Girl Scout is welcome in Girl Scouting. I confirmed this through calling GSUSA directly and asking about transgender girls being welcomed in scouting, and through conversations with my own area coordinator.

That’s why I am disturbed that right under the “UUA and BSA” page on the UUA’s website, the next link is to a list of “Alternative Scouting Organizations,” and that this page then begins with stating “In addition to the popular Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA, there are other scouting organizations.” ( This statement makes it look like the UUA has problems with Girl Scouts similar to the problems with Boy Scouts, and perpetuates a common misunderstanding that Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are related organizations that share common policies and practices, when this is not the case. Girl Scouts ought to be listed as an “Alternative Scouting Organization” along with Camp Fire USA, Navigators USA, Scouting for All, and SpiralScouts. I grew up in Camp Fire, and can say that I have found Girl Scouts every bit as welcoming, if not more so, to girls of regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation or other aspect of diversity. My little troop last year was a group of girls who through themselves and their parents represented every aspect of that list of diversity types, in fact!

I’m hoping the wording on the UUA’s webpage can be changed to represent the positive relationship that the UUA has with Girl Scouting. If you are not the person who this letter should be directed to, please tell me who I can refer this issue to. This March is the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts, and I’ll be highlighting Girl Scouts in our church this year, where several Girl Scouts have earned their “My Promise, My Faith” badge for learning about how the Girl Scout Law relates to the Unitarian Universalist Principles. I would love it if by the 100th anniversary our organization could show more support for this inclusive and supportive scouting institution.

Thank you for your care and attention to this issue.

In faith,

Cynthia Landrum
Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty
Clarklake, MI
Girl Scout Troop Leader & Troop Organizer


plaidshoes said…
I am glad you wrote this letter. I am a GS Troop Leader, too, and hadn't realized how it is portrayed on the UUA website. You are right that the BS and GS are very seperate organizations and shouldn't be lumped together. Thanks for pointing it out to the UUA!
RailScout said…

I've been a Girl Scout for 44 years, since Browniehood (I wear about five hats on our Community Service Team, after 20-some years leading troops the Leader hat's retired for now), and the number of times over the years I have to clarify that the Brothers in Khaki and ourselves are two separate organizations...!

Even though both organizations trace their roots directly back to Baden-Powell, we've always been separate. In addition, Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding worldwide has historically had the emphasis on what we call nowadays "empowerment of girls and women," which a male or co-ed Scouting (or Scouting-inspired)movement doesn't have.

Again, brava for your letter to TPTB -- we can only hope they take notice.
Cynthia Landrum said…
I did get a very nice note back from someone at the UUA who said she understood my point and appreciated my interest, and that they would certainly take a look at that when they revised the page, which should be sometime in the next few months.
Anonymous said…
This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Billie Jean King:

Everyone has people in their lives that are gay, lesbian or transgender
or bisexual. They may not want to admit it, but I guarantee they know somebody.

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