An online petition imploring the Girl Scouts of the USA not to go forward with its plan to join official Inauguration Day festivities is nearly 150,000 strong and growing.
“By marching in Donald Trump’s inaugural parade, you are failing to live up to GSUSA’s values,” declares the MoveOn.org plea, addressed to GSUSA interim CEO Sylvia Acevedo by a troop leader identified as Heather C. “Please do not make Girl Scouts of the USA party to normalizing racism, misogyny, and fascism. Do not march in the inaugural parade.”
An announcement this week that the Girl Scouts were among Inauguration Day’s controversial lineup of participants prompted the petition and set off a firestorm of criticism from those who hold the 100-year-old organization’s feminist principles dear.
— Jessica Valenti (@JessicaValenti) January 17, 2017
With all the things he’s done & said about women & girls, it’s particularly angering to hear the Girl Scouts are going to #Inauguration
— asha bandele (@ashabandele) January 19, 2017
Girl Scouts should NOT be marching in the inauguration parade. This man is a sexual predator. #boycottgirlscoutcookies
— ChelsBells (@IcingQueen) January 18, 2017
This prompted a defense from GSUSA, which explained its position in a statement posted on its website on Wednesday. “On Friday, January 20, approximately 75 Girl Scouts from the Nation’s Capital council will voluntarily march in the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Parade, as the council has done over the past 100 years,” it reads. “As part of this unique experience, these girls will gain insight into the time-honored democratic tradition of a peaceful transition of power. Then, the very next day, Saturday, January 21, women and girls, including Girl Scouts, from across the country will descend on Washington to participate in the Women’s March and similar events in communities across the country.”
The statement continues, “At Girl Scouts, our Movement is made up of individuals who hold political beliefs and convictions as varied as our nation itself. And because every girl has a home at Girl Scouts, every girl in our Movement is allowed her own ideas, opinions, beliefs, and political ideology. Our fundamental value is empowering girls to be leaders in their own lives. … Of course, we are a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that by law cannot take positions on political candidates or parties — and we take this very seriously.”
In addition, a Girl Scouts spokesperson tells Yahoo Beauty, “We are a girl-led organization. Girl Scouts are voluntarily marching in both the 2017 Presidential Inaugural Parade, and the Women’s March on Washington and similar events in communities across the country. All girl participation is voluntary, and the girls choose what they do and do not participate in.”
Still, Heather C. notes in her petition, “Tradition is not a justification for normalizing Donald Trump and his blatant misogyny. Just this week, nearly 60 members of Congress have announced they will not attend the inauguration. We aren’t required to do things just because we’ve done them in the past. What we ARE required to do, as Girl Scouts, is live by the Girl Scout Law.”
And based on a tradition that’s been way more progressive than that of the Boy Scouts (who will also join Inauguration Day festivities), as well as the president-elect’s troubled record with women, some believe that this year should be the exception to the Inauguration Day tradition. In 2015, the organization fired back at conservative critics of its transgender-inclusive policy. Previously, Girl Scouts had caught flak for everything from being feminists and expressing support for reproductive rights to selling cookies outside of a marijuana dispensary.
It’s an apparent disconnect not lost on many of those who have signed the MoveOn.org petition. “What are you telling these young girls? That powerful men can be excused from sexism? Trump does not reflect the values of kindness and compassion I learned as a Scout,” notes Nancy Dolan of Washington. Adds Amy Chin of New York, “I am hugely disappointed in the organization’s choice to honor the blatantly anti-girl President elect by marching in the inauguration. Please reconsider. Your presence gives an undeserved stamp of approval to his repugnant, offensive and harmful views of womanhood.”