Girl Scouts of the USA has long welcomed transgender girls in its troops. But after the anti-LGBT American Family Association recently targeted the organization, Girl Scouts leadership doubled down on their trans-inclusive stance.
Earlier this month, the American Family Association (which is classified as an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center) launched a petition inaccurately claiming "a new Girl Scouts of America policy states it will extend members to boys who identify as girls." The petition, which had more than 38,900 signatures at press time, urged supporters to "stop this nonsense by rescinding this dangerous policy."
It went on to allege that transgender girls, incorrectly identified as "boys in skirts" and "transgender boys" would "put young innocent girls at risk." The language evoked repeatedly debunked, transphobic arguments that equate trangender people with sexual predators — even though studies show transgender women, especially, are the most at-risk of verbal and physical harassment when using gender-segregated spaces like restrooms and locker rooms, compared to their cisgender (nontrans) counterparts.
Girl Scouts leadership, however, responded in a way that simultaneously rejected AFA's fear-mongering while refusing to dignify the group's scare tactics with a direct address, notes LGBT blog The New Civil Rights Movement.
In a statement published on the official Girl Scouts website May 14, Girl Scouts USA Chief Girl Expert, Andrea Bastani Archibald clarified the organization's intent in "serving all girls."
"There is not one type of girl. Every girl's sense of self, path to it, and how she is supported is unique," wrote Archibald. "Our mission to build 'girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place' extends to all members, and through our program, girls develop the necessary leadership skills to advance diversity and promote tolerance."
Archibald went on to reiterate the organization's official policy about including transgender scouts:
"If a girl is recognized by her family, school and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe. 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."
The Girl Scouts of the USA, which is headquartered in New York City, first made waves with trans-inclusive policies back in 2011, when news broke that a Denver troop had welcomed a 7-year-old transgender girl into its ranks. Throughout the resulting backlash — including a brief, failed effort at a boycott of the famous Girl Scout cookies — the national organization's message was clear: Scouting is for all girls.