Supporting Inclusion in Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan (GSHOM) has worked diligently to ensure transgender girls are welcomed into all Girl Scout activities, serving as a buffer so the girls are safe in our environment. We have begun to develop facilities (non-gender specific bath and private changing areas) at our camps and regional headquarters) and changing signage to accommodate transgender girls in a way they will feel safe and well cared for.

Our national Girl Scout organization has embraced this issue; however, they have not provided any support materials or information for implementation, and have generally not been able to be as nimble as local councils on issues. We have reached out to them as well as others for support materials for staff and leaders to be able to really advocate for and communicate around issues transgender girls face, and find real ways Girl Scouts can provide meaningful experiences in their lives. The resources do not exist specific to orienting and educating Girl Scout volunteers on ways to best transition girls into troops and other Girl Scout offerings.

We seek to create much needed education sessions and lead from a grass roots position. Across the Girl Scout landscape, leadership, staff and volunteers alike need training on understanding the issues and of correct, sensitive and appropriate phraseology to advocate for and welcome transgender girls and their families to gain advantage of Girl Scouting. Our initial focus is the engagement of Girl Scout leadership from across the country and local youth-serving organizations in education and planning sessions in the form of a three day summit intended to build this understanding. We envision the Supporting Inclusiveness in Girl Scouts (SIGS) summit as a springboard for the development of education/training course(s)/orientation for volunteer Girl Scout volunteers, educators and youth mentors.

Funded by Ann Arbor, MI (November 2016)