I've never seen so much discussion among my liberal and ministerial friends about Girl Scouts. Sure, there's the palm oil controversy which comes up every year at cookie time, and the confusion that people sometimes have between Boy Scouts of America's stances and Girl Scouts USA's stances. The two are unrelated organizations, and Girl Scouts USA welcomes scouts to change the word "God" in the Girl Scout pledge to any word representing the scout's spiritual beliefs. Girl Scouts also has not taken any stance limiting participation of lesbian or bisexual scouts or troop leaders.
The latest Girl Scout controversy is around transgender scouts. And, once again, Girl Scouts has taken an inclusive stance. The story that has caught the attention in the news is of a young girl, Bobby Montoya, who wanted to become a Girl Scout. Bobby is a 7-year-old transgender girl.
The story first emerged that Bobby wanted to become a Girl Scout but had been turned down by a local Denver-area troop. Bobby's parents then appealed to the council. The council overturned the troop's decision, saying, "Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout." Some articles have misrepresented this as Girl Scouts as an organization taking one stance and then reversing it, when it was more of a matter of a local troop not following the inclusive policy that was in place. When this story first emerged, I contacted Girl Scouts USA to ask about the policy on transgender scouts, and heard the same thing that I had heard from my local area coordinator and the same thing that the Colorado council said -- any child who says she is a girl and wants to be in Girl Scouts is welcome. I had heard that the Denver-area troop leaders had responded by disbanding the troop, but when I research this, it turns out it looks like this is just rumor and misunderstanding. It appears Bobby has not yet joined the troop, and that there have been no further developments on the situation in Colorado. On the other hand, there are troops hosted at a conservative Christian school in Louisiana that have disbanded in protest.
What's got people talking about this story again is a video by a California Girl Scout, Taylor [last name and troop number are being withheld, understandably]. Taylor urges you to boycott Girl Scout cookies because Girl Scouts admits transgender girls. I'm having trouble embedding her video -- it seems to have been taken down, but I'm sure it'll be findable soon.
Taylor's video is being spread through social media in thanks partly to the attention from conservative groups focused on pushing back against some of the more liberal and inclusive aspects of Girl Scouts, such as "Honest Girl Scouts" which takes issue with GSUSA for transgender scouts, but, more particularly, for some programs and events that have been done with Planned Parenthood, particularly at the international level (GSUSA is part of WAGGGS--the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouting). Taylor's video, while it appears at first to be just one individual Girl Scout sticking up for her beliefs, ends with her plugging the Honest Girl Scouts organization.
Just giving the background on this story was longer than I expected, so I'll share my thoughts and comments in a later post.