Canada's Girl Guides say all transgender girls are welcome

After years of accepting transgender girls on a case-by-case basis, the organization has released new guidelines, advising members to be sensitive to their needs.

Three years after the Girl Guides of Canada said it would start looking at how to best welcome transgendered children, the organization has unveiled a new, all-inclusive policy.

“All persons who live their lives as female are welcome to join the organization,” said the Girl Guides. “GGC recognizes and values the richness of human diversity in its many forms, and therefore strives to ensure environments where girls and women from all walks of life, identities, and lived experiences feel a sense of belonging and can participate fully.”

Before this, transgender girls who wanted to join were individually evaluated, “seeking expert advice and consultation on how best to support these children and their families,” according to the group’s statement in 2012.

The guidelines now point to counselors called Unit Guiders, who will work with transgender members and their parents, as well as a designated “inclusivity specialist.”

They also list questions and answers directing members on how to be sensitive toward transgender girls. For example, “it is not the role of a Guider to judge who is and who is not a boy or girl,” the organization states.

In response to the question, “What should I do with the information that a girl is transgender?” the Girl Guides instruct their members to treat her status as confidential, “unless otherwise directed by the girl.”

The pamphlet, which offers advice on seemingly everything from which kind of bathroom to provide to whether or not to call the transgender member “her,” sheds some light on the level of understanding many are seeking. The questions are important, if a little awkward.

The Girl Guides’ statement comes just months after a Washington state council of the Girl Scouts of the United States returned a $100,000 donation that sought to exclude transgender girls, revealing the amount of controversy that surrounds membership in these programs.

“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,’” Megan Ferland, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, said to Seattle Metropolitan. “And I don’t question whether or not they’re a girl.”

Youth groups aren’t the only ones trying to figure things out. In a move to raise awareness about LGBT issues, the White House in April opened its first gender-neutral bathroom, reported The Christian Science Monitor.

And this fall, an Illinois school district sprung to national attention for denying a transgender student full access to the girls’ locker room, sparking accusations of gender discrimination.

While district officials said they had offered the student a private locker room last year in efforts to respect the “privacy” of all their students, the girl’s family – and federal civil rights officials – said it amounted to stigmatizing the student.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.