From the age of 6 to 16, Girl Scouts was my place. Every Friday after school, my friends and I would gather (led by my mother) to master new activities, plan camping trips, and plot the most effective cookie sales strategies. There was no thought given to political differences, or politics for that matter. We had been friends since age 6. We were white, Asian, black, and Hispanic. We were Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and atheist. We were first-generation and tenth-generation Americans.
The beauty of Girl Scouts was it was one of the few places growing up where girls could just be. There was no pressure to wear make-up, dumb ourselves down, or overanalyze awkward interactions with boys. It was a place to forget about politics, grades, or strained home lives.
We united over our love of service, exploration, and community engagement. Girl Scouts equipped me with the skills to be an entrepreneur, leader, steward, and curious, creative thinker. I was never told what to do or how to do it. Rather, badges and patches listed goals, and our leaders encouraged the girls in the troop to create ways to achieve them.
The ideological takeover of the Girl Scouts was a long time coming. Beginning as early as 2012, some progressive troops allowed biological boys to join their troops. This decision apparently “conforms with [Girl Scouts’] continuous commitment to inclusivity.” The organization’s prioritization of progressivism over the interests of girls and the sanctity of all-female spaces has led to cookie boycotts and Twitter fights.
The Girl Scouts’ professed inclusivity did not extend to conservative Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. The national organization buckled to activist pressure in 2020 and removed congratulatory social media posts touting Justice Barrett’s Girl Scout credentials. The posts intended to promote the organization and the places its foundational lessons can take former members. Instead, the Girl Scouts’ decision to remove the post spoke loudly about which women they consider inspiring and worthy of celebration. (Of note, Justice Sonia Sotomayor is still featured on the official Facebook and website.)
It should come as no surprise, then, that the Girl Scouts now promote an “LGBTQ Pride Month Patch.” The accompanying activity sheet offers “recommendations for you to consider as you prepare to participate in the LGBTQ+ Pride Month Celebration,” and includes links to GLSEN’s reading lists. Selected works include A Is For Activist (for elementary school Scouts) and Beyond the Gender Binary (middle school). To earn the patch, girls as young as five are encouraged to make rainbow flags, attend a Pride celebration, and read children’s books featuring LGBTQ characters.
When I was in Girl Scouts seven years ago, patches facilitated ways to explore faith, community, sustainability, STEM, and advocacy. They recommended age-appropriate activities that encouraged us to think, lead, and solve problems. But patches never promoted specific political viewpoints, and they certainly did not encourage children to attend sexualized parades that include adult men in thongs and topless women bragging about “coming for your children.”
This new LGBTQ patch should not have a place in Girl Scouts because progressive sexual ideology should not have a place in Girl Scouts. This organization is supposed to prepare girls to “serve God and my country, to help people at all times, and to live by the Girl Scout Law.” Girl Scouts should be a place of comfort and camaraderie with other girls, not a place that encourages events where children will be exposed to graphic expressions of adult sexuality.
What makes the institutional capture of Girl Scouts so uniquely heartbreaking is the abandonment of the crucial role it once played in improving the lives of millions of girls like me. It brought girls together regardless of race, socioeconomic status, religion, or politics. It was one of the first ways I connected with older generations of women in my family. It was where I made my first female friendships, some of which survive over 17 years later. Girl Scouts didn’t teach what to do or think—it taught girls how to evaluate, care, and act. Girl Scouts made us leaders, victors, and friends. Girl Scouts gave girls the skills we needed to be whole women in an age where the most publicized example of femininity was the Kardashians.
An ideologically-captured organization that prioritizes the feelings of mentally ill adults and confused boys will never be able to provide the guidance and sisterhood young girls need and crave. If Girl Scouts wants to win back its formerly loyal top cookie-sellers, it needs to drop the indoctrination, protect all-female spaces, and return to the values stated in the Girl Scout Promise.