Girl Guides Tackle Transgender Membership

Scouts Canada dealt with the issue of women and girls participating in the traditionally-male organization years ago. Since 1998, women and girls have been allowed to join and participate in Scouts Canada since 1998.

However, amid the many changes that Guiding has experienced over the past couple of decades, the issue of admitting men or boys to the Girl Guides of Canada has remained firmly and uniformly suppressed as unthinkable. Now, there is a new dimension to the ‘male membership’ question: how to deal with transgender people of all ages seeking membership, as Guides and Guide Leaders.

A thoughtful article on the is currently online (published January 26, 2012) at Yahoo’s Daily Brew national affairs blog (posted at least temporarily at: http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/dailybrew/girl-guides-canada-tackles-transgender-membership-wake-u-204454200.html).

Against the day that Yahoo! inevitably delists the article from its system, I offer the text below with all due credit and respect to Yahoo! and the Author, so that visitors to this Web site will be able to read it in perpetuity.

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Girl Guides Canada tackles transgender member- ship in wake of U.S. controversy

By Steve Merl Daily Brew

It’s safe to say Lord Baden-Powell, his sister Agnes and wife Olave didn’t envision having to deal with an issue like transgenderism when they founded the Scouting and Guiding movements a century ago.

It’s not an issue for Scouts Canada, which has admitted male and female youth since 1998. But Girl Guides of Canada now finds itself wrestling with whether to allow children who identify themselves as girls but are anatomically boys into the organization.

“Our board is seeking advice from medical and law professionals, and will deal with requests on a case-by-case basis,” Deborah Del Duca, chief executive of Girl Guides of Canada, told the Toronto Sun.

“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.”

The Guides, a volunteer organization whose stated mission is to enable “girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world,” said it was asked recently to consider allowing transgender kids to join.

It’s not clear whether that means a transgender child has applied to become a Girl Guide, but the issue has certainly been on the group’s radar since a controversy erupted in the United States over the admission of a seven-year-old Colorado child.

Bobby Montoya, whose mother said he has identified as a girl for some time, was initially rejected by the local troop leader of the Girl Scouts, as the organization is called in the U.S., because he had “boy parts,” according to the New York Daily News.

But the Girl Scouts’ Colorado chapter reviewed the troop leader’s decision and admitted Montoya under its policy to include transgendered children.

“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,” the chapter said in a statement.

Bobby Montoya never did enroll in the troop but the Colorado Girl Scouts’ decision created a backlash elsewhere.

Leaders of three troops, all affiliated with a Louisiana Christian school, quit the organization and disbanded their troops in protest, according to the Christian Post.

Guiding began in 1909 when a large number of girls showed up to a scouting rally hosted by the movement’s founder, Lord Baden-Powell, a Boer War hero. His sister Agnes, and later his wife Olave, Lady Baden-Powell, fostered the new organization, which reached Canada in 1910.

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The foregoing Daily Brew column reflects the opinions of the author, Steve Merkl, but not necessarily those of Ottawa’s Gender Freedom.

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