11 January 2012

Boycotting Girl Scout Cookies--Or A Girl?

Today is the Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary. To mark the occasion, a 14-year-old girl in California is calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies. 

She is a former Girl Scout.  So why does she call for the boycott in a YouTube video?  A troop in Colorado admitted a seven-year-old transgender child.

In the video, the ex-Girl Scout, who is identified only as "Taylor," says, “Right now, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. ... is not being honest with us girls, its troops, its leaders, its parents or the American public.”  According to "Taylor," who wears a Girl Scout sash during the video, “Girl Scouts describes itself as an all-girl experience. With that label, families trust that the girls will be in an environment that is not only nurturing and sensitive to girls' needs, but also safe for girls.”

An "all-girl expereince."  That sounds like a reason why the seven-year-old transgender would join.  "Families trust that the girls will be in an environment that is not only nurturing and sensitive to girls' needs, but also safe for girls."  Hmm...If I were a parent, I think those would be exactly the reasons why I'd support my child who wanted to join.  It would be safe, not only for the kid who's joining, but for the other girls in the troop.  After all, if the kid is a genetic boy with female characteristics and a high level of estrogen, that kid is neither a physical nor a sexual threat to other girls.  And, even if the kid were more characteristically male, it's highly unlikely that she'd be interested in doing anything that would menace the girls or their parents.

I can't be too angry with "Taylor," though.  After all, she's still a kid and what we're hearing from her are most likely notions she's received.  I knew less about gender variance (save for the suspicion that I was indeed variant) at her age than she does; most people in that place and time knew even less.  Perhaps she will learn things I didn't have the opportunity to learn.

Still, there's the question of what the future holds for those organizations with "Boy" or "Girl" in their names.  In recent years, the Boy Scouts have become notorious for homophobic practices and policies. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that there are people who share "Taylor"'s sentiments.  However, as it becomes somewhat acceptable, in some milieux, to raise a child in ways that aren't in accordance with traditional notions about the gender on the child's birth certificate, the Scouts and other organizations will have to re-think their criteria for membership.  Of course, their thinking will be driven by practical considerations, like the threat of lawsuits.  But, if people become more willing to accept variance in gender and sexuality, some may not let their kids join, and some kids may decide they don't want to belong.  After all, they all need "safe" envirnoments that are "nurturing and sensitive."

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