What a week for the Girl Scouts. As a lucky group of girls were invited to to a campout at the White House—and then ushered inside to continue the sleepover when it rained—the organization was dealing with a less congenial political situation.
The organization’s Western Washington chapter was in the news this week after rejecting a $100,000 donation that came with an anti-transgender provision, using it as an opportunity to reaffirm the Girl Scouts mission.
“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,” stated Megan Ferland, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. “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.”
The donor added the anti-transgender ‘catch’ around the time of Bruce Jenner’s transgender journey coming public. The Girl Scouts chapter refunded the money and took to Indiegogo.com with a campaign (and video, above) with the appeal: “Help us raise back the $100,000 a donor asked us to return because we welcome transgender girls.”
The $100,000 was a significant loss, representing 25% of what the group raises each year to provide financial help for girls to go to camp and participate in other ways. But no worries—they’ve already raised almost $250,000 in two days.
“We are astounded,” said Kate Dabe, the council’s VP marketing and communications told Fox News. “We were prepared for a 30-day campaign. We raised our goal in a day.”
There currently are transgender Girl Scouts, about whom Girl Scouts USA said, “Inclusion of transgender girls is handled at a council level on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of all members as a top priority.”
“I understand that people have different views,” added Ferland. “We stand by the fact that Girl Scouts is for every girl. We knew going in that not everyone would share that view.” But social media certainly does and support and praise are sweeping Twitter and Facebook.
“When we realized the donation would require us to exclude some girls, there was nothing else to do but return it,” said Stefanie Ellis, PR director for Girl Scouts of Western Washington to Mashable. “The only way we’re going to fulfill our mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place is if we make sure there aren’t any barriers in place for girls’ success.”
Back at the White House, meanwhile, 50 Girl Scouts were hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama, honorary national president of the Girl Scouts in a visit that also helped promote her Let’s Move kids physical fitness campaign and the US National Parks #FindYourPark campaign. She and the President welcomed the fourth-graders in the first of its kind on record for the White House. “This is something you can tell your kids and your grandkids,” said Mrs. Obama.
Naturally, Mr. Obama made an appearance too. “What are you guys doing in my yard? When did you guys show up?” Obama quipped to the girls, whose sleeping bags were whisked into a conference room to continue the sleepover when a storm threatened to dampen their enthusiasm.