A donor gave $100,000 to the Girl Scouts to exclude 1 group of girls. They gave it right back.
They raised more than $100,000 in a single day.
Earlier this year, a generous donor gave $100,000 to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington.
According to the Seattle Met, that was almost a quarter of the council's fundraising goal for the entire year. This was a big deal.
Unfortunately, the donation came with one very big catch: The Girl Scouts had to promise that the money would NOT be used to support transgender girls.
"Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls," read the message. "If you can't, please return the money."
As a national organization, Girl Scouts has been explicitly inclusive in their messaging about trans members.
Earlier this year, the Girl Scouts made clear that they support trans girls:
"Girl Scouts is proud to be the premiere leadership organization for girls in the country. Placement of transgender youth is handled on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of the child and the members of the troop/group in question a top priority. That said, if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe."
Ultimately, though, the decision about whether trans girls can join a troop is left up to individual councils. For example, just two months after the statement was released, a Louisiana troop reaffirmed that trans girls weren't welcome — and it seems as though the $100,000 donation to the Girl Scouts of Western Washington was an effort to get them to try to make a similar preemptive policy.
The Girl Scouts have received some pretty major backlash over their trans-inclusive policy, but they've stuck to it.
After the national organization released its statement on the matter, petitions and boycotts of the Girl Scouts were launched by a number of anti-LGBT organizations arguing that trans girls are really just "boys in skirts" (they're not) and are somehow a threat to the safety of girls in the troop (there's no truth to this type of accusation).
The Girl Scouts were not having it.
The group had a tough decision to make, but landed on the side of being inclusive: They returned the $100,000 donation.
As a local council, they could have taken the money and vowed not to accept trans girls. But that's not how this council rolls.
"Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to."
— Megan Ferland, Girl Scouts of Western Washington CEO
Council CEO Megan Ferland explained the reason for the decision, telling the Seattle Met, "Girl Scouts is for every girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to."
But doing the right thing meant the troop was out $100,000. So they asked the Internet for help — and got it.
It wasn't like this money was just going to sit around. In fact, the council was counting on that donation to help fund 500 girls' memberships in the Girl Scouts. Without the money, these girls would be out of luck.
So the troop launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money from people who believe that an inclusive environment is a better environment.
In a single day, the council raised more than $100,000!
It's great to see the Girl Scouts of Western Washington standing up for all girls.
Because an accepting, inclusive world is a good world. Trans kids go through enough struggles as it is, and for trans girls to know that the organization will stand up for what is right can be life-saving.
Stefanie Ellis, the public relations director of Girl Scouts of Western Washington, emailed me with some background on how the crowdfunding campaign came about.
"When we realized the donation would require us to exclude some girls, there was nothing else to do but return it. We were grateful to have the enthusiastic backing of our board and staff in making that decision. It was a sad one, though, because that money was for 500 girls who couldn't participate in all the life-changing opportunities we offer without financial support. So we knew we needed to find a way to get that money back. Crowdfunding came up as an idea, and we ran with it. Now here we are.
We wholeheartedly believe every girl means EVERY girl. And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to. 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. We welcome all girls to join us, and get out there and make a difference in our world!"