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Teen calls for boycott of Girl Scout cookies because of transgender member

January 12, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
A California teenage Girl Scout named Taylor is asking people to boycott Girl Scout cookies because a Denver, Colo., Girl Scout troop admitted a 7-year-old transgender boy as a member last fall.

"Why is GSUSA willing to break its own safety rules and go against its own Research Institute findings to accommodate transgender boys?" the girl asked in a YouTube video that has since been set to a private setting. "Unfortunately, I think it is because GSUSA cares more about promoting the desires of a small handful of people than it does for my safety and the safety of my friends and sister Girl Scouts ... it's not safe to hide boys in Girl Scouts." The teenager is asking that people avoid buying Girl Scout cookies until the Girl Scouts stop letting the transgendered boy participate in a troop. The Girl Scouts have refused to back down and said the organization's policy is to admit children as members who identify as girls and whose families identify them as girls, even if they are biologically male. Girl Scout cookie sales go to benefit local Girl Scout programs and most of the money stays in the local area, according to news reports.

The child at the center of the controversy is named Bobby. Bobby's mother said her son has identified himself as a girl since he was 2, likes dressing up as a girl and playing with toys that are more typically liked by girls. Photos taken of him last fall show a child with long, shoulder length black hair, playing with a doll. The family lets him dress as he pleases as long as it makes him happy. The Colorado troop initially turned her down when she tried to enroll him as a Girl Scout but later agreed that he could join the troop.

So what do you make of the controversy? I find the teenager's complaint a bit overwrought.

It's not likely that a 7-year-old boy will pose any threat to the safety of girls in a Girl Scout troop, particularly one who enjoys doing a lot of the same things little girls that age enjoy doing. He might be more likely to be ostracized in a Boy Scout troop than with little girls who also like to do crafts and play with dolls. The grown-ups may have a bigger problem with this than the little girls, who probably would accept Bobby as one of them without much fuss.

You hear more about little boys like this these days. A mother wrote a book called "My Princess Boy" about her elementary-age son who likes to dress up as a fairy princess. There are also some studies that transgender men or women do know very young that they are different from other people. There may be some birth defect that we're not aware of yet that causes a child's brain to be feminine even though the body is masculine or vice versa.

Given the difficulties involved, I don't think I'd actively encourage those differences in children and I'd probably be consulting a psychiatrist if I had a son like Bobby. On the other hand, if that male child kept insisting he was a girl, at some point it wouldn't do much good to force him to act like a stereotypical boy. Maybe the answer is to allow parents who object to enroll their girls in a troop where the transgendered child does not attend.

Either way, I don't think I will forgo buying thin mint cookies from the local Girl Scouts when they come around the newsroom.


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