The Reason Why Girl Scouts Declined a $100,000 Donation
Most nonprofits would jump at the chance to receive $100,000. But when Girl Scouts of Western Washington was told by an anonymous donor that it wouldn't be able to use the money for transgender Girl Scouts, it turned away the cash.
Now it's looking to raise the money on its own terms, and it's well on the way to meeting the goal—without even having to sell a box of Thin Mints. The new Indiegogo campaign, "For Every Girl," shows the organization is dedicated to fostering an inclusive community for LGBT youths at any cost, and that message has resounded with thousands of donors. The campaign has raised more than $93,000 in less than a day.
The goal amount, $100,000, is almost a third of the troop's annual financial assistance program, and it would allow hundreds of girls from low-income families to go to camp and participate in year-round activities, according to the Indiegogo page.
"Our vision at Girl Scouts of Western Washington is that every girl in our region—regardless of her race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or geographic location—is empowered to unleash her potential, build her future and transform her world," reads the campaign page.
That mission statement echoes Girl Scouts of the USA's longtime position on including transgender youths: If a girl is recognized by her family, school, and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is committed to serving her in a safe and welcoming environment, according to its "Frequently Asked Questions" page. The policy has been public for years, but it was recently targeted by conservative and religious groups such as the American Family Association, which launched a petition in May to restrict Girl Scout membership to "biological girls."
So, Why Should You Care? Girl Scouts' firm stance on transgender inclusion is all the more important considering that transgender youths report facing higher rates of discrimination, bullying, and homelessness than does the rest of the youth population. About 40 percent of homeless youths identify as LGBT, and family rejection is listed as the most common reason for homelessness, according to the Happy Hippie Foundation. While detractors say that transgender youths are just "confused," new research from the University of Washington shows that gender identification is deeply held from a very young age.
The Girl Scouts policy sets an important precedent for other youth organizations moving to transgender acceptance. It's worth noting, however, that the Boy Scouts of America is not making progress at the same rate. It lifted a ban on openly gay Boy Scouts only two years ago, and it still prohibits gay leaders from joining, even though its president, Robert M. Gates, has urged the organization to reverse the policy.