Friday, January 13, 2012

Cookies and Controversy: Part 2

 (Continuing from Part 1)

Well, it seems the video of young Girl Scout, Taylor, which asking you to boycott Girl Scout cookies because Girl Scouts is inclusive of transgender girls, has been taken down. There are a number of well-done responses from Girl Scouts that are available, however.  Some of my favorites are:
These Girl Scouts make several good points about what Girl Scouts is all about.  A primary one is about the Girl Scout Law.  In her original video, Taylor talked about the line of the Girl Scout Law that says, "Honest and Fair," and how Girl Scouts is somehow not being honest if they're not proclaiming loudly to everyone involved that there are transgender scouts, and who and where they are.  Obviously, the Girl Scouts are being honest about their policies, and fair in their implementation, but the Girl Scout Law has nine other pieces to it, many of which apply in this situation:
I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
 It's obvious that the Girl Scouts in the response videos have learned what it means to be "considerate and caring," "courageous and strong," "friendly and helpful," "responsible for what I say and do," to "respect myself and others," and, most importantly, to "be a sister to every Girl Scout."

My biggest worry in all of this is that the Girl Scouts could bend to pressure from the right to change their policies in this and other areas.  They're under considerable pressure from the right about interactions with Planned Parenthood, the transgender and lesbian scouts issues, and religious freedom.   When I started as a troop leader two years ago, it was printed everywhere the Girl Scout Pledge was printed that girls could change the word "God" to any word representing the Girl Scout's belief.  That's still the official policy, but it was controversial.  And it's no longer on their website and it's not in my brand-new Brownie handbook where the law is printed, either.  So it's not clear to me how a new scout or a new scout leader would be clear that Girl Scouts, unlike Boy Scouts, gives them this religious freedom.  I worry about a new scout being told by a troop leader that they have to say the pledge as written, and taking that troop leader's word for it.  Similarly, the conservative websites tell me that where Planned Parenthood was previously mentioned, in places like staff members' bios, it has been "scrubbed" from the website.  There's nowhere on Girl Scouts USA's webpage where you're going to find the policy on transgender scouts, either. 

So while Girl Scouts is open and welcoming, it's cautious, understandably.  That's why it's important to me that we, on the religious left, know what Girl Scouts is standing for, and the pressure they're under, so we can be as supportive as possible.  Don't buy the cookies if you don't want cookies, but when your local Girl Scout comes to you for support, please know that this is an organization that is working to empower young girls; to teach them valuable leadership skills; and to teach them love and respect for their bodies, minds and spirits; the people around them; and the world around them.  Stop and tell the Girl Scouts that they have your support and you believe in what they do.  There is so much in the world around us that is teaching negative messages to girls about their capabilities and their bodies, that I'm grateful that not only does Girl Scouts exist, but that it is a place that is open and welcoming to all girls, and we don't have to change our religious or political beliefs to belong.

And if you do want cookies, they go on sale here January 20th, a week from today. 

2 comments:

Cheri said...

I hadn't noticed the girl's materials no longer included the footnote about God. I remembered it as being in the leader's materials, but I notice they have not provided leader materials (yet, at any rate) for the new Girl's Guide books.

mekoopman said...

I also like the reply from a young trans man at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ey8tWsyLPtk