Scanning my news feed three days ago I came upon a story that has transfixed me ever since. A story that made my heart swell, as it contained all the elements of a good tale including heroines, an antagonist, and a happy ending most of us, I hasten to guess, never could have imagined.
Filed under the category: 'You Can't Make this Stuff Up,' the story begins with the Girl Scouts of Western Washington receiving a $100k donation to help 500 girls participate in scouting. Unfortunately, this gift came with strings attached, specifically, the donor asked for a guarantee that the money would not be used to help transgender girls. Yes, you read that sentence correctly, this donor tried to dictate discrimination with their gift of money. When the Girl Scouts learned of this caveat, they returned the donation because bigotry has no place within their organization, which they proudly proclaim is for EVERY girl.
Not to be defeated, the Girl Scouts set out to recoup the $100k by launching a grassroots campaign. Visiting their campaign page, I found that they had received $50k in donations within the first 48 hours, which was more than a respectable start. Giving themselves 30 days to reach their goal, I was certain that would be attainable. But then the unexpected happened. With each donation, the story began to spread near and far. And with each page refresh, I watched the donations grow right before my eyes, eyes that were filled with tears knowing as a mom, how much it means for transgender children to be given the gift of belonging.
Donors from around the world were sending a message loud and clear that they supported the Girl Scouts unconditionally. What began as a donation gift-wrapped in prejudice and fear had become a symbol of respect for the unique qualities each of us possess. And pride for an organization that has never waivered from their mission of being inclusive to all. In just three short days over $291,000 has been raised, with donations continuing to pour in by the hour. And perhaps just as important are the sentiments people shared as to why they were giving:
"Thank you for standing up for what's right and fair. You make this former Girl Scout proud."
"When I was a little girl, the best thing about the Girl Scouts was that all girls were accepted for who they were. I'm so happy to see this ball keep rolling, especially for a part of the population who still fights so hard to be accepted. The difference a warm, welcoming environment can make on a trans girl's ability to grow up comfortable and confident in herself should not be undersold. This is an amazing cause, and I'm so proud of the Girl Scouts today."
"All of my best qualities were fostered by my 10 years as a Girl Scout. Thank you for teaching me to believe in myself, and teaching me that I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be, regardless of my gender. I'm proud to be a supporter, as GSA does the same for the next generation."
"In my youth, I was a Boy Scout (because) I had to hide my true identity. Now as a transwoman in my mid-thirties, I fight for equality for all people, but especially my transgender brothers and sisters. I wish that I had the courage that these girls do now. Keep up the amazing work!"
Living up to their creed of being caring, courageous and strong, and standing firm in their convictions, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have taught us an important lesson on the power of acceptance that will never be forgotten. They, along with their supporters, are a shining example of all that is good in this world.