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It’s More than Just a Cookie

Girl Scouts of America empowers transgender children.

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The Girl Scouts have openly welcomed transgender troops since 2015 (photo by Elaine Thompson/AP).

For over 100 years, the Girl Scouts of America has pledged to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place.” This mission statement rings true, especially when going through their alumni list, which features many recognizable names on it.

Former Girl Scout members include Queen Elizabeth, former First Lady Michelle Obama, world-class athlete Venus Williams, and Oscar-winning actress Chita Rivera. With more than 2.5 million registered members, the nonprofit is the “largest female entrepreneurship program in the world,” and it has no intention of slowing down. 

Now it’s time again to uplift future female leaders by purchasing Girl Scout cookies across the US through March 22. Cookie booths can be located by using the organization’s new app

For the LGBTQ+ community, support for the Girl Scouts is not only meaningful, but also a matter of activism. In addition to its mission to empower girls through entrepreneurship, the organization is also transgender-inclusive.

In 2015, CNN reported that a Denver Girl Scouts troop garnered nationwide attention following the admittance of a young trans girl named Bobby Montoya. Many criticized the troop’s decision to include Montoya, going as far as calling for a boycott of the organization. However, the Girl Scouts did not waver from their pro-equality stance.  

“If a 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,” states the Girl Scouts’ frequently asked questions page.

Despite the boycott, the Girl Scouts received an unprecedented wave of national support. That same year the Denver troop sold more cookies than it ever had in previous years. 

And while Montoya’s case was one of the first to be publicized, the Girl Scouts’ policies on LGBTQ+ troops had been handled with care and without prejudice for decades, according to Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Girl Scouts’ chief girl expert. 

“Our position is not new,” Archibald told CNN in 2015. “It conforms with our continuous commitment to inclusivity.” This includes the Girl Scouts’ 1950s implementation of integrated troops, which Martin Luther King Jr. called “a force of desegregation.”

The Girl Scouts’  commitment to equality becomes even more apparent when compared to their male counterpart, the Boy Scouts. For 105 years, over 70 percent of the Boy Scouts budget came from the Mormon Church, according to the New York Times. The Church’s influence led to the adoption of the Boy Scouts’ anti-LGBTQ policies. 

In 2018 it was announced that The Boy Scouts would be renamed Scouts BSA, according to NPR. Its official change took place the following year in an effort to foment inclusivity to participants of all genders. However, the process has been slow, and many troops still abide by traditional rules.

On the other hand, the Girl Scouts has always been a secular organization. And, while they have ways to empower members with diverse faiths, their impartiality creates an environment for girls from all backgrounds to thrive in. 

As they say, change comes from the top down, and as the world progresses, the Girl Scouts have done their best to accommodate their troops. 

So this cookie season, pick up a box of Girl Scout cookies for a great cause. Every purchase of Girl Scout Cookies helps fund the amazing experiences and leadership opportunities available for girls in our community. 

Or, as one Twitter user puts it, “If you’re thinking of buying a box of Girl Scout cookies, remember that they support trans kids, and have rejected donations from anti-trans organizations, and then buy a couple more boxes.” 

For more information on the Girl Scouts, visit girlscouts.org/

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Alys Garcia Carrera

Alys is a spring 2020 intern for OutSmart magazine and an international student who currently attends the University of Houston. They are majoring in Political Science and have three minors: GLBT studies, English/Spanish translation, and film studies. They also work for the University's Special Collections LGBTQ archives at M.D. Anderson Library.

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