Controversy over a transgender Girl Scout selling cookies has led to national media discussion over the harms of bullying.
Nine-year-old Stormi, who identifies as transgender and joined a local Girl Scout troop last fall, decided to sell Girl Scout cookies as part of troop activities, Buzzfeed reported. Stormi has been part of the foster child program in Illinois for three years and hoped to raise money from selling Girl Scout cookies to support foster children in the area.
When a neighbor rejected her cookies saying, "Nobody wants to buy cookies from a boy in a dress," Stormi's foster mother Kim helped her open an online cookie-selling operation through the Girl Scouts' "Digital Cookie" site, where Stormi sold more than 3,000 boxes of cookies.
"My troop plans to use the money to help us go on trips," Stormi wrote on the site. "I have my own plans as well. At my request my family will donate boxes to local foster kids like me!"
Kim declined to give her family's last name to either Buzzfeed or the Washington Post when asked.
The cookie-selling success comes as organizations around the country – ranging from a New York comedy group to California nonprofits to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocates in Idaho – decried bullying of children, reported the Washington Post.
Anti-bullying efforts, including helping girls build the self-confidence to stand up to bullying, is a core component of the Girl Scouts program.
"Our programming introduces and opens girls up to so many things – like STEM, financial literacy, and outdoor experiences – that are vital for a successful future," says the Girl Scout website. These "enable them to build social and emotional skills, exemplify anti-bullying behavior, and develop confidence, resiliency, and leadership skills."
Jay Strobel, spokesman for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, told the Washington Post he supported Kim and Stormi's problem-solving.
"She decided to donate boxes to something close to her heart, which is foster care,” Mr. Strobel told The Post. “She took something that wasn’t so pleasant and she turned it into a positive experience.”
The Girl Scouts organization takes no position on human sexuality generally but describes guidelines for transgender Girl Scouts on its website:
Placement of transgender youth is handled on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of the child and the members of the troop/group in question a top priority. That said, 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.
In keeping with these guidelines, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington turned down a proffered donation of $100,000 in June because it was accompanied by a letter that asked, "Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls." They have since more than recouped that money from other donors. Stormi has also received a great deal of support from people who objected to bullying.
"For her to be able to read all these messages that people are sending from around the world to support her – the love is just overwhelming," Kim told Buzzfeed.