ETA: I’m sure I’ve missed some really important points here, please forgive me, as I have not meant to omit anything on purpose, and welcome any respectful dialogue on the topic.
Girl Scouts – why the cookie boycott is completely BS
TRIGGER WARNING: This discusses blatant discrimination against transgender individuals.
I’m mad. I haven’t been this mad in an extremely long time. I’m spiting daggers mad. I’m breathing fire mad. I’m FURIOUS. And I’m saddened. What, you might ask, has triggered this amount of negative emotion in me? Well, dear readers, this article discussing this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y514LSe8FWk (I don’t want to embed it, because it’s really truly awful.)
The video is of a young, “well-spoken” young lady, who is claiming that her girl scout training (“Discover, Connect and Take Action”) allows her to advocate for her beliefs: that the Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA) is a terrible organization, and you should boycott buying girl scout cookies. Why, you might ask? Because GSUSA allows young transgender girls (those children who identify and present as female) to join in Girl Scouts. And she firmly believes that “no boys should be allowed”, because obviously the only reason they could want to join Girl Scouts is to cop a feel and destroy an all-girl space. And in her misguided way, she argues that in order to show GS that they shouldn’t allow transgender youth to participate in the programs (despite their identity as female), she is leading a boycott against buying GS cookies, the major fundraiser for GS programs.
Now I’ve been a Girl Scout since I was 5 years old, and am what is considered a “Lifetime Member”. Girl Scouts was and in some ways still is an integral part of my life – I learned social skills, learned how to work together in a group, and learned how to be organized and take a leadership role. Girl Scouting offered me numerous experiences – learning how to run a business, going on neat trips all over the world, designing and creating massive education programs, being a leader. And Girl Scouts taught me to accept all people, regardless of nationality, religion, skin color, family life, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, and any other differences, visible and invisible.
It is an incredibly open and wonderful organization that wants truly to empower young women to grow into compassionate adults who can make a positive difference in the world. I even earned the Bronze, Silver, and Gold awards (each is a different level award for a different age group). The Gold Award is the highest award one can earn in Girl Scouts, and it is a huge honor and a LOT of work to earn one. Fewer girls make Gold Award than boys do Eagle Scout.
We are an organization based on openness and acceptance, and it is very important to not confuse us with the Boy Scouts, who have a major anti-gay agenda and refuse to allow anyone who is LGBT into their organization. The Boy Scouts are a Christian-based group. Girl Scouts is secular – no religious affiliation at all, and anyone of any religious affiliation can join. GSUSA is one of the most accepting organizations I know of, and they work hard to give every girl a feeling of being appreciated for who she is, regardless of her challenges and differences, for her strengths, interests and the things that make her herself.
What this girl says, and the arguments she makes are completely contrary to what the GS teaches us. It pains me to hear that this is what she has taken from her experience in Girl Scouting, and makes me incredibly sad for her to have such a close-minded viewpoint, after having been in a program like this for years.
And I must of course, commend GSUSA for their defense of these trans-girls to be a part of the Girl Scouts. With statements such as “We accept girls of all ages, from kindergarten through 12th grade. 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”, and “Ensure that no girl is treated differently. Girl Scouts welcomes all members, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, culture, background, sexual orientation, gender” (the girl puts emphasis on the “gender” and doesn’t finish the sentence, which I assume says something like “and ability”. GSUSA is showing once again that they are an open, accepting organization worthy of the lessons they teach. One shouldn’t have to pull down their pants and provide a birth certificate to prove they are eligible for Girl Scouts. And everyone, EVERYONE, but especially those in minority groups, deserves the lessons GS has to offer: empowerment, confidence in oneself, leadership, and acceptance.
And if you weren’t going to buy cookies this year, maybe think about buying a box or two – knowing that they go to an organization that promotes equality and acceptance for all people, and that MOST Girl Scouts learn acceptance, friendship, and appreciation of difference, and go out into the world to make it truly a better place for all people. This girl is not a true Girl Scout, and does not deserve to bear the title. I truly feel sad for her, and I can only hope that she sees and reads some of the refuting statements that people are making and learns. But then again, I’m an optimist. I like to assume the best in people.
The Girl Scout Law
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,
respect myself and others,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.
I have repeated these words many times, and I try to live by them. They seem like pretty good guidelines to me, don’t you think? However, in making this video and accompanying webpage, this young lady is not being friendly, considerate, or caring. Her anonymity suggests she is not being responsible for her words. She is certainly not respecting others, and is absolutely respecting authority (GSUSA), in their work for equality. And she is making the world a more bigoted and hateful place. It’s sad to see Girl Scouts represented in this way. The major mission of Girl Scouts is to GIVE EVERY GIRL THE SELF-ESTEEM SHE NEEDS TO BE HERSELF. And while my first knee-jerk reaction is to buy lots of cookies this year to spite this one person, that’s not going to change her mind, or the malleable minds of all the young people out there who are learning and subsequently preaching intolerance and hatred. So instead of just decrying this and saying how horrible it is, educate yourself and others. Learn about the issues and be aware of the challenges. Speak up when you see discrimination in your life, and do your part, to “make the world a better place” for all people.
Transgender girls ARE girls. And GSUSA has done an amazing thing by accepting them at face value, for WHO THEY ARE AS PEOPLE, quietly, without making a fuss about it. They’ve shown that acceptance is as simple as saying “yes” and allowing very special, unique girls to benefit from their programs regardless of their background, to learn their value as human beings, and to grow up in an environment that accepts them as whole people, no strings attached.
If you want to stop here, that’s fine, but I’m so incredibly furious at this video that I’m going to go through and discuss/refute her arguments more in depth, if you want to read them.
First, she claims that GS has given her 3 lessons: “Discover, Connect and Take Action”, and that those lessons allow her to make these arguments. So she’s
- Discovered that the Girl Scouts are allowing all girls, regardless of sex at birth, to be Girl Scouts. And she has decided that this is a severe threat to her, because she believes that only people with girl-parts deserve to be Girl Scouts.
- Connected, by using the internet, anonymously, to connect to thousands of people to share her message of hate
- Taken Action, by making a horrendous video in which she denies personhood to a minority group, and claims that the Girl Scouts are the perpetrators of this ludicrous scandal. And in order to correct this problem, she has enacted a boycott on buying Girl Scout cookies.
Congratulations to her, she has learned how to spread her ideas. This is an important lesson of the Girl Scouts. However she hasn’t actually made connections. She’s anonymously reaching out to other bigots over the internet. She even disconnected ratings and comments on her video, so that her connections are only one-way: from her, to whoever sees the video. She’s nameless, and refuses to own her words. And she refuses to allow the connections to go 2 ways, which is the most valuable and integral part of any connection: the fact that they DO go 2 ways. It’s cowardly.
She uses a lot of tactics to get her “message” across. She claims that GSUSA is not being “honest” with the members of the organization because they allow transgender youth to join. GSUSA is not a religious organization. It’s built on the tenents of acceptance. And yet she quotes an article in “Baptist Press” titled “Girl Scouts Admitting of Boy Drawing Backlash”. Yeah, of course, a far right religious group is going to have an opinion. But that’s not what Girl Scouts is about. Then she quotes the representative of the GS Council: “We accept girls of all ages, from kindergarten through 12th grade. 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”, and interprets is as such: “If a boy wants to be a girl, he can be in Girl Scouts” with the text “Transgender boy = boy who wants to be a girl” over herself. She also puts up text saying “boys reach puberty before 12th grade” – suggesting that transgender boys only want to be included so that they can sexually harass and abuse the girls. Again, that is just kind of ridiculous. Most people are not sexual predators.
Now I do not identify as transgender, so I can’t speak for members of the trans community, however I feel pretty confident in saying that it’s a little bit more than “boy who wants to be a girl” (or vice versa), and identity is something beyond “wishes and desires”. If someone identifies as a girl (or woman), they are a girl (or woman). And the Girl Scouts shares this opinion: “If a child is living as a girl, that is good enough for us. We don’t require any proof of gender”. And really, if a child is living as a girl, regardless of their assigned sex at birth, then why should it be a question in the first place? I certainly didn’t have to present a birth certificate or pull down my pants in front of the authorities to prove my female-ness, why should anyone else have to?
And then, this young lady calls into question the “most disturbing thing to [her] and [her] family”: that GSUSA has placed young transgender girls in troops across the USA, without telling everyone widely. She claims that this is dishonest, that GSUSA is hypocritical. I disagree. While I wish GSUSA had publicized that they did put young transgender girls into troops, because I would’ve celebrated that and hoped it had come sooner, I completely understand why they didn’t make national announcements. What about privacy and confidentiality of young people? Is it GSUSA’s job to put a young child on a pedastol for the world to judge? That’s putting a child’s life in danger, is certainly not respecting that individual or their family. And worse, it’s putting whole troops, towns, councils, and states in danger of attacks from people like this girl and her family, and others with strong prejudices. The Girl Scouts spokesperson whom this girl is quoting then elaborates that there are, in fact, councils with transgender girls, and everything is working out absolutely fine (and the spokesperson refused to give details). The girl then goes on to say: ALL GIRL = NO MALES. She asks “is it ok to hide boys in Girl Scouts?” – further denying these young people’s right to their own identity, claiming that their existence is not only a lie, but also a danger for all “real” girls everywhere. I’m sorry, but if someone identifies as a girl, they are allowed in a female space. Does it matter what your plumbing looks like?
She even claims that the Girl Scout Research Institute has spent $$$$$$ (that comes in through GS fundraising such as cookie sales) to prove that only all-girl groups are of value in empowering young girls. And she sees inclusion of transgirls as violating that. A girl is a girl, and she deserves the chance to be in an all-girl space. But obviously my definition of “all-girl” is a little different from hers. It’s not like Girl Scouts sit around and talk about our periods all day… or ever…
Over and over, this young lady denies transgender youth of their identity, continually claiming that boys ruin things and that girls can’t talk about things when boys are in the room. But a transgender girl is a girl. Not a boy. I know I’m a broken record, here, but still. This young lady just doesn’t get it, and that is clear.
She then continues trying to pull quotes from GSUSA’s publications, citing “safety” regulations requiring adult men to sleep in separate tents with girls and other things. She claims it’s dangerous for transgender youth to sleep in the same room or tent as people of their own gender, because their plumbing is different, and that makes them predators. Like I said before: most people are not predators. And a young transgender girl is NOT going to be advertizing her privates. And any Girl Scout overnight trip that involves girls comparing what’s down there is not a trip I want to be on…
The girl then quotes a statement by the Girl Scouts: “Ensure that no girl is treated differently. Girl Scouts welcomes all members, regardless of age, race, ethnicity, culture, background, sexual orientation, gender…” (She doesn’t finish the sentence – pick and choose much?) – she interprets this to mean “Girl Scouts admits that different genders, or boys can enter Girl Scouts and they don’t require proof of their gender either” and she continues by saying that this means “any boy can join Girl Scouts by saying he wants to be a Girl Scout.” Because of course, it’s just wishes and desires of boys to destroy all-girl spaces that prompts young transgender girls to want to find a place in an all-girl community. Girl Scouts isn’t about excluding boys. It’s about empowering girls. All girls, regardless of plumbing.
And finally, she claims that GSUSA is violating her safety and the safety of her “sister Girl Scouts” (of course, this excludes anyone whom she doesn’t consider a true “Girl Scout”) using the money she earned for them in cookie sales. So she’s boycotting Girl Scout cookies. Because in her mind, that’s the action that should be taken. And if you want to support Girl Scouts (or more specifically, her troop, because GSUSA is a terrible conspiracy that’s only out to cater to the “desires of a few”)? Then give a private donation. She claims she is “connecting” and “taking action” (the keywords from the very beginning) to promote the safety of all girls. And she suggests supporting only “Girl Scout GIRLS”.
And I’m sad for this girl. I’m sad that she was raised in such an environment that taught her to have such harsh prejudices. And I’m sad for all of the girls who think the same way as her, because they have been taught to hate and distrust and exclude.
But here’s the thing. Transgender girls ARE girls. And GSUSA has done an amazing thing by accepting them at face value, for WHO THEY ARE AS PEOPLE, quietly, without making a fuss about it. They’ve shown that acceptance is as simple as saying “yes” and allowing very special, unique girls, regardless of background to benefit from their programs, to learn their value as human beings, and to grow up in an environment that accepts them as whole people, no strings attached.