I was a two-year Brownie, a Girl Scout for less than a year and then…well, I okay, so I was never much of a joiner to begin with. It all came down to the dress in the end; I didn’t want to have to wear one — this was the 70’s after all — and my troop leader wouldn’t allow me the tomboy sash-only concession that my Brownie leader did. That’s how I became a third-grade Girl Scout drop-out.
Don’t worry, it didn’t lead to a pre-adolescent life of petty crime and clove cigarettes. That would come way later.
Top photo: Authentic peace and love Girl Scout tee at the official Girl Scout shop
Even at 8, the uniform rule seemed unfair to me. As if tomboys weren’t welcome; only girls who wanted to wear dresses. Or at least that’s how I saw it. I didn’t want to be part of any club that wouldn’t have me and my Danskin pants as a member. My friends continued on, but I found other clubs, sports, activities that felt more me.
So to be clear, I haven’t had much by way of powerful, personal pro-scouting sentiments over the years, and I have no personal agenda here. I’ve just read about how much good the organization has done for so many girls over the years, and I know that girls these days can use all the opportunities to develop self-esteem, leadership skills, and a capacity for volunteerism and benevolence that they can get.
And hey, I like Thin Mints. Probably a little too much.
Vintage Girl Scout handbooks, Plundered Patina on Etsy
I’ve also watched closely through the decades as inclusivity issues in scouting have become far more complex and profound than the rejection of pants, and I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to be a major national do-good organization for kids in such polarizing political times.
So I may be a little behind on the news while on vacation this past week, but I was riveted by the recent story about the Girl Scouts of Western Washington reinforcing their policy of providing true acceptance and community for every girl by rejecting a $100,000 donation from a donor (or as I’d like to think of him/her, bigoted jerkface) that came with strings attached: I’ll give you the money but you can’t let in any transgendered scouts.
As Leslie Lagerstrom wrote in Huffpost, this donor tried to dictate discrimination with a financial gift. Discrimination of kids.
But the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, in a huge act of bravery and decency, were all, no way (bigoted jerkface) donor…we’re for EVERY girl. And if you looked at our FAQ, you’d know that if a child is recognized by her family and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then we serve her. So you keep your (gross) money and we’ll just go on being awesome and inclusive and if you’ll excuse us, we’ve got some community service badges to hand out.
I don’t even think they’d make a transgendered girl wear a dress if she didn’t want to these days. So, progress.
What’s just as amazing to me though — because any organization saying no to 100 grand these days is jaw-droppingly amazing — is that as of today, the Indiegogo Girl Scouts is #ForEVERYgirl campaign has already recouped the money three-fold.
$327,000 raised so far. All in the name of inclusion and support for all girls.
It makes me tear up with joy.
Maybe, like me, the donors have read the stories: A mom of a transgendered five-year-old son accepting him for who he is. The 11-year old transgender girl who wrote a letter to Obama called “Sadie’s Dream.” Or on the other side, so many heartbreakingly tragic stories like the suicide of teen Leelah Acorn who was never accepted at all. Or the real Brandon Teena story, which inspired the Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry.
Or maybe, as we grow as people and progress as a society, we simply have more and more experience with “different” kids which helps us better hone our skills of compassion and understanding. Even when it’s hard. Even when we don’t entirely understand.
Marc Jacobs 2012 two daddies tee for the Human Rights Campaign
For those children out there who are “different” in some way, whatever that difference may be, we’ve always tried to support them here. I hope we’ve done a good job, if not a perfect one.
We look for features that acknowledge adopted children. Biracial children. Differently abled children. Children in blended families. Children with single parents. Children with same-sex parents. Homeschooled children. Military families. Stay-at-home dads. Parents with more than 2.3 children. (Maybe even a lot more.) Girls who like action figures. Boys who like dolls. And we intend to keep doing that here, and hopefully getting better about how we talk about it all.
We are all still learning. I know I am.
I mean at this point, is there any “traditional” family at all? I feel like in some way, we can look at something about our own families that isn’t necessarily the norm or the majority.
I get pitches about clothes for my son, though I only have two daughters. I receive tips for keeping my yard lush and green, while living in a Brooklyn apartment building. I get emails that quote scripture, despite the fact that I’m not of the Christian faith. We get suggestions from marketers about what to get our husbands for Father’s Day, while not all of us around here have husbands. Yep, lots and lots and looooots of pitches mentioning my husband. Or my marriage. Or my wedding. None of which I’ve ever had, as someone who had children by choice through a committed, long-term relationship that ended a few years ago.
Oh, if you only saw my inbox! We’d sit around over cocktails (or coffee or really cold iced water, because I don’t want to presume that you drink cocktails or coffee) and have a great laugh.
It’s not to say that these are all sensitive topics, or that the emails are offensive. And I’m certainly not comparing apartment living or single parenting to the discrimination faced by the LGBT community. (Hell, no.) This is just to say that every so often, even I get just the tiniest little sting of feeling “other,” whatever that may be. So I can only imagine what it would be like to be the parent of an LGBT child, and just how “other” that continues to be.
What I cannot imagine is the hate, or more likely, fear in someone’s heart that would lead them to write a $100,000 check for the purpose of alienating children who are different.
I’ve said before that if there’s one thing parents have in common, it’s that we all want our children to be happy. We want them to fit in, and to feel they have a place in the world.
I love that the Girl Scouts have proven they feel that way too.
The best part is, the money they’ve raised doesn’t go anywhere political at all. It doesn’t support a cause or a candidate or a ballot measure. It doesn’t go toward the creation of some new multicolored Inclusion Girl Scout Cookie with a delicious cream filling “because we’re all the same on the inside.”
The donations simply allow more than 1500 girls to join the Girl Scouts.
My mom always said to me, there are no guarantees in life. We have no idea how our children will turn out, or what they will become, or who they are inside. All we can do is love them.
Sometimes moms know stuff.