Within one day, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington has raised more than $100,000 dollars online — a sum being used to replace a donation the local council returned to a funder who refused to support transgender girls.
Council CEO Megan Ferland told the Seattle Met Monday that the troop had been overjoyed to receive a $100,000 donation last month. Covering nearly a third of the council's yearly operating costs, the money was meant to help 500 girls attend troop meetings and summer camps when their families couldn't afford it. But then the donor sent along one caveat:
"Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can't, please return the money."
Ferland didn't hesitate: she returned the money. "Girl Scouts is for every girl," she said of her decision. "And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to."
The Girls Scouts of Western Washington then set up an Indiegogo fundraiser that went live Monday morning to recoup the lost funds. Explaining the fundraiser on the site, the council called its $100,000 goal "ambitious," admitting it was "a lot of money," but they hoped to raise it within the site's 30-day limit. They raised $40,000 right away.
But the fundraiser officially kicked into high-gear this morning, as The Advocate, and then several other national news sites, reported the story, drawing the attention of hundreds more to what the Girl Scouts have dubbed the "#ForEVERYGirl" social media campaign.
Since 8 a.m. this morning, donations to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have skyrocketed, at one point reaching $500 in one minute, raising the fundraiser's final $60,000 within just four hours. Support from donors — former scouts, parents of scouts, trans advocates and allies — have poured into the comments section.
"I was a Girl Scout in Seattle for 10 years," wrote one woman. "It was an important part of my life. And now, as the spouse (for more than 40 years) of a transgender woman, I can only imagine what scouting could have done for her. Thank you for maintaining the highest principles of scouting."
"#ForEVERYgirl is a cute hashtag, but you really mean it," wrote another. "That means the world to me, in part because I'm a transgender woman."
The Girl Scouts of the USA has been vocal since 2011 about its inclusion of transgender girls, reaffirming that stance last month when the anti-LGBT American Family Association targeted the organization, gathering tens of thousands of signatures on a petition demanding the Girl Scouts rescind its trans-inclusive policy.
"There is not one type of girl," explained Chief Girl Expert Andrea Bastan at the time. "Every girl's sense of self, path to it, and how she is supported is unique."
The Girl Scouts of Western Washington are now continuing the fundraiser to raise even more money to help girls who need financial assistance to attend their troop gatherings and summer camp.
"It's astounding," the troop's public relations director Stefanie Ellis told The Advocate. "We are overcome with gratitude for the outpouring of support for all of our girls. We’re excited about being able to serve more girls because of the generosity we have seen."