Our focus has always been and always will be girls.
For the past century, Girl Scouts has been intensely focused on dispelling gender stereotypes and creating a space exclusively for girls to learn and grow. Now as ever, through Girl Scouting, girls gain confidence, seek challenges, become active decision-makers and proficient problem-solvers. They are better equipped to navigate an ever-changing work world, particularly in STEM disciplines.
Recently, Boy Scouts of America announced a name change to remove the word “Boy” from its name, opening the door to girls. Since the announcement, I’ve been flooded with questions about what changes Girl Scouts will make in response, about whether our organization will admit boys, about the impact to Girl Scouts.
My first and most important answer is to make clear that nothing will be changing about the way Girl Scouts of Western Washington, or Girl Scouts of the USA, function. We are committed to the same things we were when we were founded 106 years ago: Equipping girls with the tools they need to become leaders who can face any challenge — from the wilderness to the living room to the boardroom — with confidence, compassion and success. Our focus has always been and always will be girls.
We have not and will not be admitting boys to our organization. There is no organization that more thoroughly understands the value of programming designed specifically for girls, delivered in an all-girl learning space. Those programs are resoundingly effective.
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Girl Scouts are more likely than non-Girl Scouts to participate in healthy activities, including exercise and eating right; leadership roles when working in a group; community service efforts, like volunteering; money management, such as knowing how to spend and save; and STEM activities, from science experiments to building robots. And while women represent only 6 percent of CEOs in our country’s biggest companies, 80 percent of all women business owners were Girl Scouts. And while only 21 percent of U.S. Senators are women, 71 percent were Girl Scouts.
At Girl Scouts of Western Washington, we’re keenly focused on inclusivity, which means we welcome girls of every race, ethnicity, income level, sexual orientation, ability, gender identity, religion, or geographic location to join us.
Three years ago, The Seattle Times wrote an editorial about a crowdfunding campaign we launched in this region in support of transgender girls. A donor who gave us $100,000 later stipulated that their funds could not support transgender girls. We gave the money back. We have strong and clear values of inclusion and equity: If a child identifies as a girl, she is welcome in Girl Scouts. Our council believes strongly that every girl should be able to participate.
The Girl Scout program is girl-led. If girls want to be engineers and build robots, we have badges for that; if they want to be filmmakers or comic-book artists, we have badges for that; if they want to experience outdoor activities like rock climbing, fire building and knot tying, we have programs and patches for that, too.
The Girl Scout Cookie Sale is the largest girl-run business in the world — girls raise millions to fund their Girl Scout activities and learn the entrepreneurial skills they will one day need in the corporate world. And if they want to earn their Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts, they gain an honor recognized as a benefit in college admissions and will enter a rank higher should they join the Armed Forces. Gold Award projects are as impressive as the girls who achieve them. One candidate’s project this year has been working within the STEM community to create prosthetic hands with 3D printers.
At Girl Scouts of Western Washington, we’re firmly focused on giving every girl the opportunity to unleash her curiosity, discover her courage and use her voice as she grows into the leader she wants to be both now and in her future.