My kindergarten daughter is a Daisy Girl Scout. My friends with older girls had sung the organization’s praises, telling me that it was a wonderful venue for girls to feel supported and empowered. And all of our experiences thus far exemplified those values of community and caring.
So I was not happy to learn that the Girl Scouts of America will be participating in the Inauguration Day Parade this year. I could write all the reasons why I feel that the Girl Scouts participating in this particular inauguration are inappropriate, but feel that they will be seen as self-evident to those who agree with me and ridiculous/mockable by those who do not. In summation: I do not feel that our incoming President—who has made numerous remarks sexualizing young girls and denigrating women—is worthy of the honor of the support of a group whose explicit purpose is to empower young girls.
While my feelings are strong, I do not believe that boycotting the Girl Scouts for their inauguration participation is the answer here. While the Boy Scouts have had a discriminatory history, in contrast, the Girl Scouts have been remarkably progressive and inclusive. Girl Scouts are an extremely positive organization for girls, and we will need all the institutionalized empowerment that we can get for our girls in the years ahead of us.
I do think, however, this is the quintessential “teachable moment”—for the Girl Scouts and for our daughters. We need to teach our children—girls and boys—how to use their voices to speak up for what they believe in and what they think is right. Even though we live in a climate in which people throw insults and pejoratives, we all need to stand tall and stand up for what we believe in. Girl Scouts all over the country should discuss how they feel about this. Maybe they will feel the way I feel. Maybe they won’t. But the discussions must be had, and these girls must realize that their voices matter. Surely the institution professing to value them so much will listen to them.
So yes, I want my daughter to stay in the Girl Scouts. But I also want to send out this message: Whatever your feelings about the Girl Scouts of America participating in this inauguration, you need to speak up now—and teach your daughters how to do the same. Call 1-800-GSUSA-4U or 212-852-8000. And teach your children that speaking up makes a difference.
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