Earlier this year, the Girl Scouts offices in Queen Anne, Washington, erupted into cheers after a donor’s generous contribution of $100,000—a full quarter of their annual fundraising goal, and enough money to send 500 girls to camp. But then things took a bitter turn. Just as Caitlyn Jenner—formally Bruce—was preparing to make her public debut on the cover of Vanity Fair, and national attention turned to transgender issues, the unidentified donor contacted Girl Scouts with a request: please guarantee that the money won’t be used to support transgender girls. “If you can’t, please return the money,” the note read.
That was a deal-breaker. “Girl Scouts is for every girl,” Megan Ferland, head of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington, told the Seattle Met. So the Girl Scouts gave back the money.
It wasn’t the first time Ferland had to deal with transphobia in the Girl Scouts. From the Seattle Met:
This is the second time in less than five years that a Girl Scouts council has taken a public stand to support transgender girls, and both times Ferland was at the center of the story. In 2012, when she headed the organization’s Colorado council, a 7-year-old transgender girl in Denver was denied entry to a troop. Although the council had never specifically said that it accepted transgender girls, the national organization had always made inclusivity the foundation of its mission. So after checking with the council’s attorney, Ferland issued a public statement welcoming transgender girls and explaining that the council was working to find a troop for the girl who’d been rejected. “Every girl that is a Girl Scout is a Girl Scout because her parent or guardian brings her to us and says, ‘I want my child to participate,'” Ferland says. “And I don’t question whether or not they’re a girl.”
On Monday, Ferland’s office launched a campaign on Indiegogo, a crowd-sourced funding platform, to make up for the loss. “Help us raise back the $100,000 a donor asked us to return because we welcome transgender girls,” the group stated on the campaign website. As of this writing, the group had already raised $112,865—and it’s only one day into the campaign.