At Girl Scouts, our mission is to support girls as they define and tap into their inner leadership potential by standing up for themselves and the causes they believe in. Over the past few weeks, that mission has never been more important as our nation transitions leadership and is embroiled in conversations and tensions that we haven’t experienced for some time. In a recent op-ed for Time Magazine, our interim national CEO Sylvia Acevedo, asked several important questions: “What does our work building the leadership of girls look like in a polarized age of hyper-partisanship? How do we encourage girls to speak out when it seems everything people say these days gets filtered and twisted through the lens of politics?”
As Girl Scouts from across the country expressed their opinions as to whether girls should march in the Inaugural Parade or the Women’s March, Girl Scouts from our area wrote personal letters to Sylvia expressing their views. Countless others commented on social media or called our offices.
That’s the strength and the magic of the Girl Scouts. While bound together through a common mission and law, our movement facilitates and expects individual input. Our differences – in background, perspective, and experience – bring richness to our discussions and debates, through which we become stronger. At the same time, we also know that it’s more than words we recite or read. Girl Scout leadership isn’t defined by who you are or what you want to be. It’s defined by what you do.
Over our more than 100-year history, we have been champions of diversity and inclusion. We have inspired millions of girls and women to harness their power, have courageous conversations, find their own voice, and take action. We have encouraged girls to make choices that are guided by their values. Our history stands strong on the ideals of courage, confidence, and character, and we sparked a worldwide movement for girls to embrace their individuality and their collective strength. We do not condone sexism, racism, bullying, or any behaviors contradictory to the Girl Scout Law. We are an organization that stands for honesty, fairness, individual choices, and respect. We don’t judge each other when we have different views but rather find the common ground as Girl Scout sisters. These are values that our volunteers and staff continually teach, model, and reinforce each and every day.
In a time when almost everything is viewed through a political lens, Girl Scouts remains nonpartisan and objective—letting the girls lead. Our role is to encourage girls to empower themselves and use their voices. We provide them the tools and experiences to think, research, understand, and take action. Our girls are feeding the hungry, protecting the environment, influencing legislation, and motivating the marginalized. And, our girls are marching.
A few weeks ago, one of our girls organized Alice’s March for Equality in Philadelphia, to raise awareness about the Equal Rights Amendment and to advocate for its passage. I had the opportunity to be part of that event and to spotlight the critical role our girls are playing in making change. To let all those present know that Girl Scouts has an unprecedented history of inclusion, believes in equality for all, and as the premier organization for girls, we have been encouraging girls to stand up and be heard for more than a century. I remain optimistic that our members, like me, are proud of our history of emboldening girls to use their voice, and that you will encourage girls to support causes they find worthy and take a stand for what they believe in.
I believe that this issue will be with us for a bit, as we have members from all across the country with varying perspectives. I encourage you to continue to be advocates as dialogues and discussions happen. To role model what we tech our girls – to share ideas respectfully and to listen to others’ views as intently as we advocate for our own.
As always, Girl Scouts will continue to work to inspire the best in our girls, so that we can witness the best in us all. With girls leading the way…..