4 times Girl Scouts fought to make the world a better place
When you think of the Girl Scouts, cookies probably come to mind first. But the defining trait of the century-old organization isn’t those delicious treats. Instead, it’s a fierce commitment to equality and inclusivity.
Those values were on display in a viral photo of a young scout named Lucie, protesting at a neo-Nazi march in Brno, Czech Republic. The World Organization of the Scout Movement shared the picture in a Facebook post Tuesday.
“People from all walks of life, and #Scouts among them, came to the streets during an extreme right march yesterday to express their support for values of diversity, peace, and understanding,” the post read.
While the Girl Scouts of the USA doesn’t have a direct relationship with the Czech Republic scouting organization to which Lucie belongs, it is part of a “global sisterhood” of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 146 countries.
“This photo is a great representation … of what it means to be a Girl Guide/Girl Scout, standing up for your values, and working for a peaceful and just society,” Andrea Bastiani Archibald, chief girl and parent expert for Girl Scouts of the USA, said in an email.
Here are four more examples that illustrate the Girl Scouts’ values — and how girls have stood up for those beliefs.
1. Helping women vote
Girl Scouts supported suffrage by helping women vote however they could. In the photo below, taken in 1921, a Girl Scout tends to a woman’s baby while she cast her ballot. Girl Scouts were also encouraged to learn about the government, voting, and the election process to earn their Civics and Citizen badges.
2. Racial and ethnic equality
When Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912, she intended it to be for all girls, no matter their race, ethnicity, ability, and income. A Latina troop formed in 1922, a troop for girls with disabilities was founded in 1917, and girls in Japanese internment camps continued to receive Girl Scout support while detained in the 1940s.
Black girls were part of the third U.S. troop formed in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 1913. By 1951, according to the Girl Scouts, there were more than 1,500 racially integrated troops across the country and more than 1,800 African-American troops, most of them located in the south.
By the 1950s, more local councils adopted integration, and Martin Luther King Jr. called the Girl Scouts a “force for desegregation.”
By the late 1960s, Girl Scouts were actively involved in the Civil Rights movement. They held conferences called Speakouts to discuss ways to eliminate prejudice. The organization also launched a nationwide effort named ACTION 70 to help build better relationships among people regardless of race, religion, age, or nationality.
3. Religious acceptance
Frightened and upset about anti-Muslim rhetoric, two troops in Orange County, California, decided in 2016 to hold an open house at their mosque, and welcomed Girl Scout families to join them.
“These girls are not the type to just sit by and complain about a problem,” said troop leader Heba Morsi. “In a troop discussion, they decided they wanted to tell their own story — to take ownership of that and set the record straight by inviting the community into their mosque and starting a real conversation about Islam and what it means to them.”
4. Transgender rights
When the Girl Scouts of Western Washington received a $100,000 donation in 2015, the chapter was thrilled. But when they discovered the money came with strings attached — preventing the Girl Scouts from using it to support transgender girls — they decided to return it to the donor.
Losing the funding was a huge blow, but the Girl Scouts of Western Washington launched an Indiegogo campaign called #ForEVERYGirl Campaign. The end result? They raised a whopping $338,282 — and made a big statement about solidarity for transgender rights.