Girl Scouts Shut Down Critics of Transgender Members

Beth Greenfield
·Senior Editor
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The Girl Scouts of America organization is defending its transgender-inclusion policy. (Photo: LHB Photo/Alamy)

Those pint-sized radical feminists also known as the Girl Scouts are in trouble again — this time for their transgender-inclusion policy — and they’ve wasted no time in shutting down the haters. Though the national organization has formally accepted transgender girls into its ranks since 2012, it seems one conservative organization has either just heard the news or has been stewing about it ever since.

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“A new Girl Scouts of America (GSA) policy states it will extend membership to boys who identify as girls,” notes the website of the American Family Association, a Christian-morals organization that’s been labeled an anti-LGBT hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. “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 AFA then invites people to join the 38,000 who have so far signed its petition against the Girl Scouts’ policy.

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The Girl Scouts, meanwhile, were quick to fire back in this latest chapter of its transgender-policy saga. “Girl Scouts has valued and supported all girls since our inception in 1912. There is not one type of girl. Every girl’s sense of self, path to it, and how she is supported is unique,” wrote developmental psychologist and Girl Scouts’ “chief girl expert” Andrea Bastiani Archibald on the GSA blog. “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 would not comment further on the issue for Yahoo Parenting, but Bastiani Archibald did remind a CNN reporter, “Our policy is not new.”

The GSA’s transgender issue first blew up nationally back in 2011, when 7-year-old Bobby Montoya, a transgender girl, joined the Girl Scouts of Colorado after initially being rejected. Her acceptance inspired a call for a Girl Scout cookie boycott, which in turn led to the GSA cementing its trans-inclusive policy. Similar controversies in Louisiana reportedly led to the disbanding of three troops there.

But the Girl Scouts organization, in general, is no stranger to controversy: In just the past few years, it’s come under fire for issues ranging from selling cookies in front of a marijuana dispensary and honoring pro-choice politicians to hiring a gay punk rock singer as a spokesperson and screening a documentary on famous feminists.

The issue of transgender inclusion in general is also far from new, with protests about policy changes known to come from both sides of the political aisle, albeit for different reasons. Republican lawmakers and proponents of the Christian Right (including the Duggars) have battled against trans-inclusive bathroom and intramural-sports policies in schools across the country. But even more traditionally liberal groups, including some factions of the gay community, have long wrestled with the idea of transgender inclusion when it comes to altering the makeup of feminist, women-only spaces. Such battles have played out in places from Smith College — which just announced its historic policy change to begin admitting transgender women — to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, a sort of feminist Woodstock that will hold its 40th and final event in August; some point to its long-controversial exclusion of transgender women as a contributor to its demise.

What it often comes down to, in the most basic sense, noted a recent New Yorker story, is this: “The elasticity of the term ‘transgender’ has forced a rethinking of what sex and gender mean.” And the idea that something so fundamental can be changed, as Diane Sawyer noted in her historic interview with Bruce Jenner recently, can shake humans to the core.

“I heard someone say recently, ‘In our society, we teach girls to be women and we teach boys not to be women,” as Mara Keisling, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, explains it to Yahoo Parenting. “When we have a society with such strict gender roles, transgender people mess with that in a way that other people are taught to not be comfortable with.” 

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