The Girls Scouts' Response To Transphobia Is Just About Perfect & Shows The Boy Scouts How It's Done
Fact: The Girl Scouts are awesome. I mean, what other group of girls and young women has collectively ruffled the robes and starched collars of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Republican Party and the American Family Association? The Girl Scouts of the USA has been attacked by social conservatives over the last several years, primarily because they dare to accept all kinds of girls into their organization. Yet they have never faltered — and don't expect them to, as proven by how the Girl Scouts characterized its policy on transgender members.
The anti-LGBT, anti-abortion, pro-fundamentalist Christian values group American Family Association, which proclaims it has been "on the front lines of America’s culture war" since 1977, recently launched a campaign against the Girl Scouts of America and its inclusive policies. AFA specifically takes aim at the Girl Scouts' relatively new provision on transgender youth: They're welcomed, because they're girls, too!
The Girl Scouts' transgender policy was set in motion in 2012, when a troop in Colorado made national headlines for welcoming a trans girl as a Scout. That little girl in Colorado, however, will no longer be an anomaly.
"There is not one type of girl," Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the Girl Scouts' Chief Girl Expert, wrote in a response to the American Family Association petition. "Every girl's sense of self, path to it, and how she is supported is unique."
Inclusion of transgender girls is handled at a council level on a case by case basis, with the welfare and best interests of all members as a top priority. As we face a complex and rapidly changing 21st century, our nation needs all girls to reach their full potential, which has been our focus for more than 103 years.
Here's how the Girl Scouts explain the transgender policy on its website:
Girl Scouts is proud to be the premiere leadership organization for girls in the country. Placement of transgender youth is handled on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of the child and the members of the troop/group in question a top priority. That said, if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe.
The Christian fundamentalist group is petitioning the Girl Scouts to repeal its transgender policy to "protect their daughters." Here's how the American Family Association describes the Girl Scouts' inclusive policy on its website:
Boys dressing as girls can join. This means girls in the organization will be forced to recognize and accept transgenderism as a normal lifestyle. Boys in skirts, boys in make-up and boys in tents will become a part of the program. This change will put young innocent girls at risk.
"The GSA has the constitutional right to govern and restrict its youth membership only to biological girls … and for the sake of its future, it should," the actual text of the petition states. The petition, which had more than 38,000 signatures at the time of this writing, also claims the Girl Scouts is caving to individuals who "use young boys as pawns in the culture war."
These individuals will destroy the Girl Scouts "in the process of advancing their social agenda," the AFA petition asserts.
As previously mentioned, this isn't the first time the Girl Scouts have come under fire for their inclusive policies, which not only bar discrimination against transgender people, but also against openly gay members and troop leaders, as well as atheists or people who do not identify with a certain religion. These welcoming policies starkly contradict those of the Boy Scouts of America, which still prohibits openly gay adults, as well as trans boys and men, from joining their ranks. The group's code also bars atheists and agnostics from becoming Scouts or Scout leaders, because they must serve their "duty to God."
Although the Boy Scouts' aversion to accepting boys and men from all wakes of life has ignited its own controversies — as well as boycotts over ousted gay troop leaders — it's still the Girl Scouts who receive the most vocal ire. For instance, the Catholic Church in America felt so strongly about the Girl Scouts' potential involvement and support of contraception and abortion rights (even though the association denied any partnership with Planned Parenthood or similar groups) that in 2012, U.S. bishops launched a two-year investigation into the organization.
Following the investigation, which looked into the Girl Scouts' policies on human sexuality, contraception, and overall girl stuff that the bishops know so much about, the U.S. bishops released a comprehensive "scouting" guide in April 2014 for parish priests and parents to follow. The bishops actually addressed the involvement of transgender youth at the time, saying it was "commendable outreach" by the Girl Scouts, but that "any further development of guidance in these areas [transgender] may not be informed by an adequate anthropology or understanding of the human person."
Around the same time the bishops aired their public concern, a letter disparaging the Girl Scouts, sent by Indiana state Rep. Bob Morris to his fellow legislators in the state, went viral due to its hyperbolic accusations. Morris called the Girl Scouts "a radicalized organization" that worshiped "feminists, lesbians and Communists" and taught girls nothing but free love (or something to that effect).
But the Girl Scouts, taught to be kind, strong, and fearless, have kept on collecting their badges. It has no plans, at this time, to repeal its transgender policy or discriminate against LGBT Scouts and leaders.
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