The Girl Scouts Just Made a Big Move on Behalf of Equality

May 21st 2015

Laura Donovan

The Girl Scouts of America (GSUSA) stands behind its inclusive transgender policy in the wake of a new petition by Christian nonprofit the American Family Association (AFA), which has gathered nearly 40,000 signatures protesting the policy in just a week.

The GSUSA's transgender policy says that "if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe." The GSUSA's policy for trans youth has been public for years, but some suspect that the Utah Pride Center's new Girl Scout troop that accepts children from LGBT families and transgender girls brought the policy to the AFA's attention.

"This means girls in the organization will be forced to recognize and accept transgenderism as a normal lifestyle," the AFA petition reads. "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."

Seemingly responding to the AFA campaign, Andrea Bastiani Archibald, a "Chief Girl Expert" for the GSUSA, wrote in a blog post that her organization supports all types of girls.

"Girl Scouts has valued and supported all girls since our inception in 1912," Archibald wrote. "There is not one type of girl...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."

A few years ago, the GSUSA sparked controversy when a Denver troop denied membership to 7-year-old trans child Bobby Montoya. The story received nationwide attention and the Girl Scouts of Colorado eventually allowed Montoya to join. Three mothers who were troop leaders in Louisiana, however, decided to abandon their troops after Montoya became a member, with one mom saying the child's inclusion would create an "almost dangerous situation" for other kids.

Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance seemed to be in the same camp as the Louisiana mothers, saying in a statement that the GSUSA's trans policy could complicate the Girl Scout experience for all involved.

“They’re no longer Girl Scouts, they’re just Scouts," Nance said. "That’s fine if they want to rebrand. But it raises all kinds of complications and questions for parents, volunteer parents who are involved.”

In 2012, Indiana State Rep. Bob Morris came under fire for refusing to honor the 100-year anniversary of the GSUSA, calling it a "radicalized organization" that promotes "homosexual lifestyles" and has been “subverted in the name of liberal progressive politics and the destruction of traditional American family values.” Morris also accused the GSUSA of "quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood of Indiana President Betty Cockrum responded to his claims by saying in a statement that the family planning organization "currently has no formal partnership with the Girl Scouts, but supports their mission and recognizes their century of contributions to our society."

Archibald said in an interview with CNN that girls will always be GSUSA's priority, not those who disagree with the group's policies.

"Luckily, we don't serve our critics. We are proud to serve all girls," she said.