Girl Scouts return $100,000 pledge after donor excludes transgender girls

The organization responded by starting its own online fundraiser. 

Ulises Rodriguez/REUTERS
A transgender person is seen during a rally to demand an investigation of homophobic crimes in San Salvador May 19, 2012.

“We were thrilled,” said Megan Ferland, Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, as she told Seattle Metropolitan about the day her organization received a $100,000 donation earlier this year. 

Yet the donation wasn’t welcome for long. In late May, Ms. Ferland received a letter from the donor highlighting one condition: “Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.”

Ferland wouldn’t name the donor, but said the organization had to reject their offer. “Girl Scouts is for every girl,” she told the magazine. “And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to." 

The pledge amounted to nearly a quarter of the council’s annual fundraising goal and was also enough to send 500 girls to camp. But Girl Scouts of Western Washington didn’t lose hope that quickly. Instead, they set up an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign with the message, “Help us raise back the $100,000 a donor asked us to return because we welcome transgender girls.

$100,000 is a lot of money,” the organization stated on its campaign page. “In fact, it’s almost a third of our entire financial assistance program for this year – and girls need this support now. That’s why losing this gift is such a big deal.”

If losing $100,000 may be a big deal, regaining it in one day is an even bigger one. The organization has managed to raise nearly $150,000 at press time through their online campaign.

This isn’t the first time the Girl Scouts has faced transgender issues. In 2012, the organization made headlines when a Colorado troop rejected a seven-year old boy who identified as a girl, reports Denver’s NBC affiliate. When a supervisor heard of the case, Girl Scouts of Colorado sent the network the following statement, reiterating its inclusive stance:

"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. Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them."

Since then, the organization has kept its promise. It even began hosting events where Girl Scouts can learn how to become ‘allies’ and advocate for their LGBT peers.

The Boy Scouts of America have also been leaning towards inclusivity. The organization has been accepting openly gay boys to join since January 2014, yet still bars openly gay adult men from joining as leaders, according to the Huffington Post. But in late May, Robert Gates, the national president of the Boy Scouts of America, said the organization’s ban on openly gay adult men from participating “cannot be sustained.”

"I remind you of the recent debates we have seen in places like Indiana and Arkansas over discrimination based on sexual orientation, not to mention the impending US Supreme Court decision this summer on gay marriage," he said earlier this spring. "We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be."

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