Monday, July 6, 2015

Girl Scouts Triple Initial Goal After Returning $100,000 Donation

Last spring, an anonymous donor gave the Girl Scouts of Western Washington (GSWW) a $100,000 donation. After the very public transition of Caitlyn Jenner, the donor requested the $100,000 to not be used towards trans girls. This prompted the GSWW to return the donation.

This donation covers almost a quarter of the budget for sending 500 girls to camp, CEO Megan Ferland told Seattle Metropolitan, a local magazine.

"In our vision statement, we say, 'Girl Scouts of Western Washington empowers every girl—regardless of her race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity or geographic location—to make the world a better place.' And we mean every word." said Stefanie Ellis, Public Relations Director at GSWW.

The Boy Scouts have been less inclusive throughout their history, not becoming desegregated until 1974 and not allowing homosexual boys until 2013.

Riley Todd, a transgender man, feels something like this would have made his childhood a bit smoother. Growing up, he said, he always wanted to join the Boy Scouts. He always wanted to be one of the boys. Violence towards the trans community is significantly higher than it is towards the gay and lesbian community, he said, and having an organization like the Girl Scouts so open really helps move things in the right direction.

"The response, from the entire community, as well as our Girl Scout community, has been overwhelmingly positive," said Ellis, and this is evident by the more than $300,000 in donations through IndieGoGo the GSWW received after the story was made public.

Todd said he knew from the age of five that he was a boy, despite being born a girl. He has met kids as young as three and four-years-old who knew they weren't born in the right body. An organization like the Girl Scouts, and their hashtag #forEVERYgirl, really help these kids feel a sense of belonging. Important with statistics showing transgender youth are more open toward suicide than any other group.

This isn't the first time the Girl Scouts have been in the news in regards to transgender children, back in 2011 a young boy who self-identified as a girl was turned down by his local troop. When the Girl Scouts of Colorado got wind of this they released this statement to 9News of Colorado, similar to the one released by the GSWW:

"Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. 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. Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them. In this case, an associate delivering our program was not aware of our approach. She contacted her supervisor, who immediately began working with the family to get the child involved and supported in Girl Scouts. We are accelerating our support systems and training so that we're better able to serve all girls, families and volunteers."

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