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Girl Scout cookies are available for purchase starting this weekend in Eugene outside of most of our major grocery stores, including Albertson’s, Safeway, Market of Choice, and Fred Meyer’s, and a number of other venues.  For the location closest to you, click here and enter your zip code.

Although not remotely healthy, there’s yet another reason to stock up this year.  You may be aware of the controversy last fall about a troop in Colorado that wouldn’t let a transgender girl named Bobby Montoya join, then reversed its decision after the case made the national news.  Well, one girl scout disagreed with that decision, and made a rather hateful video telling people to boycott cookies this year because of the Girl Scouts of America’s decision to support anyone who claims girlish affiliation and presents as a girl.  She felt it would be neither nurturing nor safe to have a transgender girl included with the other girls. You can read more about the controversy here or here.

I’m interested in this controversy not only because I’m interested in teaching tolerance of sexual and gender difference, but because I remember very vividly what it was like to have the Girl Scout experience ruined by intolerance about what a person chose to do with her body.

My mom, whose sash is the dark green one above, really loved being a part of these mother-daughter social organizations, and we were constantly involved in them while I was growing up.  She became the leader of my own Girl Scout troop and had a blast organizing activities and events.  I pretty much would rather have been reading or writing, but as you can see on my sash, the two lone badges for active citizenship and hospitality meant I had at least one lobbyist tea party with someone about something.

My mom was also considering at that time becoming a surrogate mother, which was all the rage and quite controversial at the time.  We even went to New York so she could be interviewed on the Good Morning America show about it. She felt that she loved motherhood so much that she wanted to give that experience to someone else, and because she was divorced, she probably wasn’t going to be able to have any more children herself.

Well, the mothers of the other girls in the troop saw the show, and decided my mother wasn’t a fit leader of young girls.  She was, after all, advocating conceiving a child out of wedlock, and she would be parading around pregnant without any husband to show for it.  They petitioned and forced her to resign.  She never went through with the surrogacy and wrote off the mothers as narrow-minded and basically forgave them.  We moved on to other activities and the matter was largely forgotten.

But I was pissed.  I’m still angry about it 30 years later.  It was one of the formative moments of my life, and it made me think for the first time that there were other ways of being a woman than a married, childbearing one.  I owe that epiphany to the Girl Scouts.

And it looks as if the Girl Scouts as an organization have come a long way since the 1980s.  Some individuals, however, apparently have not.  So I say support the organization and the girls who are different by buying as many cookies as possible this year.  And don’t forget to let the troop member know why you’re supporting the Girl Scouts.

Consider donating to the transgender girl’s troop through a webpage created by the organization TransYouth Family Allies.  Donations go to the Girl Scouts of Colorado operations or a new anti-bullying educational campaign.

Or just check out some of the historic badges earned by my mom by viewing images of Girl Scout badges through the decades here.

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