While the Boy Scouts continue to squabble over whether gays belong anywhere near their institution, the Girl Scouts demonstrate an inclusiveness befitting an organization charged with shaping the character of America’s youth.
Nowhere is that better seen than at the Queen Anne offices of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, where the council’s CEO, Megan Ferland, recently returned a $100,000 donation on the basis that the money wouldn’t benefit all girls.
One hundred thousand dollars represents about a quarter of the council’s annual fundraising goal, and could pay to send 500 girls to camp. But in late May, Ferland received this note from the donor: “Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.”
The choice was simple, but that didn’t make it easy. Ferland wrote back saying she’d be returning the money, asserting that, “Girl Scouts is for every girl, and every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.”
This wasn’t the first time Ferland had made a stance on this issue. In 2012, when she headed the organization’s Colorado council, a 7-year-old transgender girl in Denver was denied entry to a troop. The Girl Scouts had never given an official directive on transgender scouts, but their focus had always been on inclusivity.
Ferland checked with the council’s lawyers, and issued a statement welcoming trans girls into the scouts. “Every girl that is a Girl Scout is a Girl Scout because her parent or guardian brings her to us and says, ‘I want my child to participate,’” Ferland says. “And I don’t question whether or not they’re a girl.”
But all that inclusivity couldn’t change the fact that council’s bank account was suddenly 100k emptier.
So Ferland made another bold choice and decided to appeal to the public. She set up an Indiegogo campaign seeking to replace the 100k, saying “we need the $100,000 back so we can serve more girls. So we’re going to do everything we can to raise that money. And if it raises a ruckus, it raises a ruckus.”
Well the public has spoken. In just two days they raised $255,000, more than doubling the original contribution.
Now if only the Boy Scouts would take a hint.