Susan Bryant-Snure of Lacombe, La., is one of three troop leaders at Northlake Christian School who resigned and are dismantling their troops because the policy is in conflict with that of the host school. Her three daughters, ages 10, 6 and 4, are among 25 girls who had been active scouts there.
Instead, Northlake is investigating aligning with American Heritage Girls, a group organized in 1995 in protest to the Girl Scouts' decision to allow scouts to replace the word "God" in scout teachings with a word representing a personal image of God, such as a "higher being," "Allah" or "Buddha."
The newer group proclaims Jesus Christ as Lord, limits membership to girls and works to disciple girls as Christians.
The issue came to light late last month when a mother in Denver, Colo., tried to gain entry into the Girl Scouts for her son, a biological 7-year-old male who seeks to live as a little girl. Initially turned away, the mother called a press conference in protest. This led the Colorado chapter to reveal its practice of inclusion, which evaluates the admission of boys, albeit transgendered, on a case-by-case basis.
While the Denver boy had not been admitted as of early December, the Colorado group is discussing the matter with the mother and is amenable to admitting the boy if he is living as a girl, explained Rachelle Trujillo, vice president for communications of the Colorado Girl Scouts.
"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," the Colorado chapter said in its official statement. It further said that "requests for support of transgender kids have grown."
The national organization, Girl Scouts of the USA "is saying that councils can make these decisions on a case-by-case basis," Trujillo said.
"If a child is living as a girl," she said, "that's good enough for us. We don't require any proof of gender. It's absolutely a case-by-case basis. There's not any rational fear of Girl Scouts being overrun by boys."
Transgendered children are currently serving in Girl Scout troops in the U.S., Trujillo said, although she declined to give details.
"There are other councils that have transgendered girls and it's working out fine," she said. "It's truly isolated and rare to have a transgendered child. It's kind of unchartered territory for all of us."
Bryant-Snure called the Girl Scouts' action "extremely confusing" and an "almost dangerous situation" for children.
"This goes against what we believe," Bryant-Snure said.
Jeff Johnston, a social issues analyst specializing in homosexuality and sexuality in the Public Policy Department of Focus on the Family, a Colorado-based global ministry, said the Girl Scouts' practice of admitting transgendered children will lead to growing societal confusion about gender. Strong cultural campaigns are already under way to teach that gender doesn't matter and to promote more than two genders, Johnston said.
"It creates confusion for children," he said, pointing out that mothers in Colorado have already contacted Focus on the Family to express concern about Girl Scouts attending camping trips with boys pretending to be girls.
"Having a boy there would be inappropriate and would add to the confusion they're already presenting the girls with," Johnston said. He encouraged churches and other Christian groups who host scout troops to investigate Girl Scout policies on the issue of admitting transgendered children.
"Churches in general shouldn't cater to the confusion," Johnston said. "It's part of biblical truth that God made us male and female in His image."
Focus on the Family, Johnston said, works to proclaim the truth in love.
"Most little boys who express this transgender confusion will grow out of it," he said, adding that boys should be encouraged to embrace their masculinity. "I don't know that you can get around hurting their feelings. As a parent, I'm aware there are times I say no to my kids and they're hurt by it on a daily basis."
In Colorado, Trujillo said she regrets that the mother in question went to the media when the council tried to engage her privately in discussions, and also regrets that the identity of the child in question has been revealed.
"With this particular family we have the door open to discuss how the child is living. We had a discussion with the mother at one point and she said she was going to call us back," Trujillo said. "Instead of calling us back, she called the media."
Diana Chandler is a freelance writer in New Orleans and a regional reporter for the Louisiana Baptist Message, official newsjournal for the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
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