Cookies, Badges and Lessons in Diversity

Last week I had intended on writing a blog post about the Girl Scouts. It was going to be about how they are celebrating 100 years of scouting this year and one of the coolest things we would see from Girl Scouts would be an overhaul of their badges. Last year over at SheHeroes I wrote about the outdated messages that Girl Scout Badges were sending to girls so I was overjoyed that Girl Scouts had heeded the message and were bringing in some wonderful changes.

Created in 1987 the Fashion, Fitness and Makeup badges are now all gone from the pages of the Girl Scout handbook and a Science of Style badge is replacing them. Financial literacy, public policy and website design are other new badges for Girls Scouts this year. And to help girls develop a positive outlook on life in general there's the Science of Happiness badge. Also included in the new batch of badges are, product design, digital filmmaking, "locavore" (local food) awareness and a Naturalist water badge.

"This is the first major update (of badges) at every level since 1987," says Alisha Niehaus of Girl Scouts of the USA. "We kept some favorites but added new ones that will help girls build the leadership skills they'll need for success in the 21st century.

So new badges. That was what this post was supposed to be about. Celebrating Girl Scouts for taking a small step towards removing outdated gender messages being doled out by outdated badges.

But then the great cookie boycott of 2012 was kicked off and now my post is about another message that is being sent Girl Scouts of American as they begin their 100th year.

It is the message that we hope EVERY organization involving children (and adults for that matter should have). A message that simply says, “YOU are welcome here.”

In case you somehow missed this story that went viral last week. A young Girl Scout took to the internets to call for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies because Girl Scouts of America has openly included transgendered children into their troops.

While I was pointing fingers at the outdated badge names, Girl Scouts of Colorado were making the following statement, “If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”

I watched the video of the 13-year old Girl Scout calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies because of this inclusive policy. While I watched it both my son and daughter came in and watched with me. I let them watch without giving them my opinion. I wanted to see what an 8 year old boy (who is a Cub Scout) and a 6 year old girl thought of this video without any explaining or coaching from me.

Instantly both of children were up in arms. “MOM! That’s not fair! Anyone should be able to join anything!” My son said. “Boys should be able to join Girl Scouts and Girls should be able to Boy Scouts!” My daughter agreed.

At 8 and 6 my kids have already learned the most important message anyone can learn. That we are all equal, especially children. And that excluding anyone because of gender in any situation isn’t OK.

So to Girl Scouts I say nice job on the badge overhaul, but here’s a standing ovation for sending a strong and beautiful message to children everywhere.

And for the record, you can put me down for an extra couple of boxes of Thin Mints this year. We will be celebrating diversity by buying as many boxes as our wallet will allow and not partaking in any boycott of any kind.

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