Monday, January 16, 2012

Cookies are not enough, but they're a good place to start

Back in October, a Girl Scout troop leader in CO refused to admit a transgender girl into her troop.  The Girl Scouts of Colorado said the troop leader was unaware of Girl Scout policy, and issued this statement:   

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.

(Click here and here for details.)

GSCO supposedly eventually admitted her.  It's not clear to me if they did.

Fast forward to last week:

Girl Scout Cookie Time is right around the corner, and a video calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies went viral on the web and hit the news.  In addition, a lot of people were suddenly talking about several GS troops that had withdrawn from Girl Scouts of the USA and formed their own troops or joined other scouting organizations.  Both the call for the boycott and the withdrawals are over this issue -- not the issue that a troop leader had been transphobic, but the issue that there might be transgender girls in the GSUSA. 

Now there's a counter-movement to buy lots more Girl Scout cookies than usual. 

So you may well have heard about the Great Girl Scout Boycott/Buycott/Girlcott.  It's all over teh interwebs.  There are Facebook events, news stories, blog posts, email discussions, Facebook discussions, you name it. 

Suddenly, lots more people than usual want to buy Girl Scout cookies, in support of an organization that supports transgender youth. 

People want to buy cookies. 

It's an easy thing to do that makes us feel better, and it helps us feel like we've made a statement.  I know the idea feels to me like thumbing my nose at the video-maker, the transphobic troop leader, and the breakaway troops.  And it supports Girl Scout programs financially. 

But -- is buying cookies really taking action to support transgender youth? 

  • Is buying (or selling) Girl Scout cookies really the best way to support transgender girls?  
  • The best way to make sure transgender girls have access to Girl Scouts?  
  • The best way to make sure they have safe experiences in Girl Scouts?  

The girl in CO supposedly was admitted to her troop.  The troop leader had previously said some pretty transphobic things.  Has the troop leader's attitude changed?  If this girl was admitted, what kind of experience is she having now?  Is it a positive one?  A negative one?  Somewhere in between?  Is she safe? 

If you're involved in Girl Scouts, are transgender girls in your area certain they're welcome in your troop?  How do they know they're welcome at all, much less that they'll be safe, referred to by the proper pronouns, etc? 

Are transgender girls truly welcome in your troop?  That's the official word --  how true is it in the hearts of the people in your local organization?

Is transgender girls aren't welcome, or if they don't know that they are, is that something you want to change?

How does buying, or selling, cookies help bring transgender girls into Girl Scouting?  (There are ways it might -- what are those ways?) 

  • How does it help them have positive experiences there?  
  • How does it help cisgender adults to whom this is new territory adapt and deal with their discomfort?  
  • How does it help cisgender girls know what behavior is appropriate, or whose lead to follow?  

If nothing else, the Great Cookie Kerfuffle is helping us have a conversation about all this.

Cookies are not enough.

But they are a good place to start.  

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