The Girl Scouts of America have once again proven their organization’s commitment to diversity and inclusion and it has paid off in a big way.
This past spring, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington received a generous donation of $100,000 from a donor (the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have chosen to keep his identity private). This large sum of money would cover about a quarter of what the group raises each year to fund its various activities. But in late May, the donor contacted the organization with a request: “Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.”
Megan Ferland, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, was understandably upset by the letter, explaining, “Girl Scouts is for every girl, and that is every girl regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion. Every girl is every girl.”
But while the money would have been tremendously helpful for the organization, Ferland did not hesitate to return the money to the donor: “It was a sad decision, but it was not a difficult decision. There was no way I would be put in a situation of refusing a girl participating because of a gift. It was really that quick.”
Last week, the troop decided to raise the money back. They launched a campaign on IndieGoGo.com, appropriately titled “Girl Scouts is #ForEVERYGirl,” and shared their story, including the #ForEVERYGirl hashtag that appeared on social media:
Our vision at Girl Scouts of Western Washington is that EVERY girl in our regionregardless of her race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or geographic locationis empowered to unleash her potential, build her future and transform her world.
By donating to our #ForEVERYGirl Campaign, you’ll help make sure that all girls can have the option to participate in the life-changing opportunities that Girl Scouts provides.We want to be sure that EVERY girl has the chance to be a part of experiences like the ones in the stories below!
Ferland knew she could potentially face backlash, but this didn’t concern her. “This is the right thing to do, so there was not anything else to do other than return the gift,” she said. “And 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.”
But the only thing raised was a large amount of money: they only set to earn back the original $100,000; however, at the time of this publication, they have received more than triple that amount within a mere three days showing just how powerful the group truly is, and how many people support their inclusiveness.
Founded in 1912, the GSUSA has an impressive 2.8 million members and, in February, was named one of the top 10 most innovative companies in the world by Fast Company. And diversity is nothing new for this organization:
At a time of segregation and before laws promoting civil rights were passed, our founder, Juliette Gordon Low, ensured that African-American, American Indian and Hispanic girls were able to become Girl Scouts. She led efforts to make Girl Scouting available to girls who lived in rural and urban areas, to girls who were rich, middle class and poor, and to girls who were born in this country as well as immigrants.
This is not the first time the Girl Scouts of America has made headlines regarding transgender issues. Back in 2012, the group came under fire and caused a “cookie boycott” when a Colorado troop allowed a transgender girl membership.
They also received attention more recently in May after publicizing their acceptance of transgender girls into the organization. Hate groups went to the media to express their disdain for the policy. However, this announcement by the organization only reaffirmed what their core values have always stated, according to Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the Girl Scouts USA’s chief girl expert: “Our position is not new,” she said at the time. “It conforms with our continuous commitment to inclusivity.”
To donate to the Girl Scouts is #ForEVERYGirl Campaign, click here.