Girl Guides of Canada Moves Towards Adopting Policy on Trans Kids

by | January 17, 2012
filed under Can-Con, Feminism, LGBT

Girl Guides LogoI was a Brownie and then a Girl Guide when I was little, so when I saw the recent news about the Girl Scouts of America being boycotted by some Scouts who dislike the organization’s trans-inclusive policy, I wondered what the situation was for Canadian Girl Guides.

First some background on the US situation in case you weren’t aware:

The Girl Scouts of Colorado released a statement last fall after they initially rejected the enrollment of seven-year-old trans girl Bobbi Montoya, who has presented as female since age 2 with her parents’ approval. They reversed their decision, saying:

“Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.

Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them. In this case, an associate delivering our program was not aware of our approach. She contacted her supervisor, who immediately began working with the family to get the child involved and supported in Girl Scouts. We are accelerating our support systems and training so that we’re better able to serve all girls, families and volunteers.”

In protest, an LA Scouts leader disbanded her troop and three more troops in Louisiana disbanded. But the controversy continues with a recent video released by an (alleged) Girl Scout named Taylor, who calls for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies in protest of the trans-inclusive policy. The original video has been taken down but you can find many video responses (including from other Girl Scouts supporting the policy) on YouTube if you search “GSUSA Transgenders” (the title of the original video). GOOD has this to say about it:

More importantly, she appears not to know what the word “transgender” means. It’s clear no one ever sat her down and explained to her that trans women actually define themselves as women, not men in disguise. She makes no distinction between being trans and being a boy, erroneously stating that Girl Scouts has placed “transgender boys”—rather than “girls”—”throughout America without letting everyone know.” She seems to think trans people set out to deceive other people, rather than identifying with the gender they feel is right for them. Above all, Taylor’s video just proves how badly we need to educate kids about trans issues.

So onto the Canadian situation. Scouts in Canada are gender-integrated but the Girl Guides of Canada are not. The 101-year-old organization boasts 90,000 members across the country and define themselves as “the leadership organization for girls and women in Canada, with 90,000 Members across the country. Guiding is bold, fun, energetic and empowers girls and women to face challenges with confidence.”

The Girl Guides don’t have an explicit policy of trans inclusion, but here is the statement they released on their Facebook page:

“For more than 100 years, Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada has been the leading organization dedicated solely to girls. In an environment where girls and young women feel safe, respected, supported and inspired, girls learn to develop the skills, resources and qualities they need to achieve greatness.

Girl Guides of Canada strives to ensure environments where girls and women from all walks of life, identities and lived experiences feel a sense of belonging and can fully participate. Requests for transgendered children to join Guiding are individually evaluated with GGC seeking expert advice and consultation on how best to support these children and their families.

While Girl Guides of Canada does not have a policy relating to transgendered children the Board of Directors is looking into best practices, policies and procedures for supporting transgendered children.”

I found it discouraging that no policy had yet been adopted, but my impression given their references to “supporting transgendered children” (though they should be using “transgender”) and “ensur[ing] environments where girls and women from all walks of life, identities, and lived experiences feel a sense of belonging and can truly participate” is that GGC is on track to developing a policy that will ensure inclusion. So I’ve got my fingers crossed that there haven’t been incidents where children have been turned away unfairly, and that GGC will work speedily to ensure proper education for leaders and explicitly mandated inclusion for trans kids in any group.

-Jarrah

 


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  • One can only hope…

  • jarrahpenguin

    Yup – the discussion on the group’s Facebook page made me optimistic (it included many group leaders saying they would be happy for there to be a trans-inclusive policy). But given their current case-by-case policy I’d really like to know if anyone knows of situations where a trans child has been either admitted or rejected based on trans status.

  • jarrahpenguin

    I should’ve also been a bit more clear on what I’d see as a good outcome:

    1. Get rid of the “case-by-case” policy. Have a blanket policy that mandates inclusion for trans girls in all Girl Guides groups.
    2. Set a firm and quick timeline for developing your policy and publishing it to units.
    3. Set up educational opportunities for Guide leaders so they understand more about trans issues and what it means to be transgender.

    My plan is to check back in a few months to see what progress (if any) GGC has made on this.

  • Carla

    Thanks for your clarification as I agree it might be too early to say they’re really moving in the right direction. Glad you’re going to keep an eye on it.

  • Sad to see that Canada again consistantly falls behind the rest of North America and Europe in LGBTQI actions. The ‘case by case’ would be the same sort of ‘case by case’ policy the IAAF still has (like the 11+ months it took to tell the Female world Champion Caster Semenya that she WAS Female world champion in the 800). Canada has, from Custom’s agents to teaching curriculum lacked the transparency and simple: ‘this is how it is’ instead of ‘to cover our asses, we will do this in secret’ standard.

    Grow up Canada! But then, I guess when after 17 years there is still only 1 classroom and 1 trans supportive environment in school for kids in ALL of Canada (Triangle in Toronto), what else to expect? And honestly, I want to be proud of Canada, to have it be in front of the curve in human rights and dignity for all citizen, not ever lagging and the advice of coming out in the maritimes is ‘move to Toronto’, and coming out in rural BC (where violence on gay and trans teens consistutes the majority of violence in those age groups) is, ‘move to Van…or Toronto’. Ack!

  • jarrahpenguin

    Thanks, Elizabeth. I agree, we expect more. And GGC is technically a year older than Girl Scouts of America, so progress-wise they’re a bit behind.

  • jarrahpenguin

    Just an update – I checked in with Girl Guides of Canada on Twitter and they were really good at getting back to me quickly. Here is the reply I received:

    “Got answer: no updates. Once parent presents their child as a girl, we accept them as such – no questions asked.”

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