Cookie Boycott — Cassie Hoffman

A teenage Girl Scout from California named Taylor has recently followed what she believes to be Girl Scout protocol — “to advocate for [her] beliefs and to discover, connect, and take action when [she] see[s] something [she] want[s] to change in the world” — by posting a video on YouTube, asking its viewers to boycott Girl Scout Cookies. She wants the general public to stop financially supporting the GSUSA because the organization, in her eyes, “is not being honest with [its] girls, its troupes, its leaders, its parents, or the American public” because of one reason: it is allowing transgender boys into the program, as long as a child and their family identify with the child as being a girl. The video has sparked a lot of controversy, and has been removed since it was originally uploaded. What is extremely interesting though, is that she chose to use that dedication to advocating her beliefs that the Girl Scouts program has taught her in an effort to undermine the entire organization.

The Girl Scout program is a great program for girls in the K-12 age range. Girls are able to learn how to work together to accomplish a task with a group of people, how to handle conflicts, how to sell, and how to respect the bond of family (since that’s essentially what a Girl Scout troop is). It also teaches girls how to make the most out of a small group in order to make an entire organization better. All of these skills are important life skills that not everyone learns at a young age; these girls are both privileged for attaining these skills so early, and also smart for consciously making the decision to be part of the Girl Scouts. But what is also one of the important aspects of being a Girl Scout is accepting people for their differences and tolerating those who are unlike yourself. If Taylor truly believed in the fundamentals of the Girl Scout organization and the principles that the program has taught her, she probably would not be so apt to refuse the acceptance of transgender boys into the GSUSA.

This is not to say that Taylor isn’t a true Girl Scout just because she feels uncomfortable with transgender boys being allowed to join troupes nationwide. That is an understandable argument to make, and she does so with many interesting points, both from her own thoughts and also from articles; she relays that not only do “families trust that the girls will be in an environment that is not only nurturing and sensitive to girls’ needs, but also safe for girls,” but also that “the top advantage of being in an all-girl group is that it allows you to relate to other girls because they are experiencing the same problems as you. You can talk about different things with girls that you just can’t with boys. You can just be yourself and who you are, not something that you’re not.” These arguments are really only relatable on an emotional basis, they don’t give substantial reason why a transgender boy shouldn’t be allowed to join a Girl Scout troupe. But she also provides a very thought-provoking question regarding overnight events: “So, if a man is not allowed to share a tent with girls, what would you call a twelfth grade boy who turns eighteen years old?” 

This is probably the most solid foundation on which she could build her argument; regardless of whether or not a boy identifies as a girl and should not be discriminated against for his/her life choices, it is unfair to subject anyone — girl or boy — unwillingly to a situation such as the one addressed in the question. It should be a topic that is agreed upon by all parties involved — if a transgender boy is to be allowed in a troupe, all members of that troupe must agree that they feel comfortable being in that tight-knit environment with that person. Obviously, this is discrimination, that someone has to be somewhat “voted into” a troupe based on their sexual identity — it truly is unfair to that person — but until we live in a society where homosexuality and transgender identities are accepted fully by the entire population, it is impossible for GSUSA (or any other organization facing similar issues) to please absolutely everyone.

Taylor’s plea to boycott Girl Scout cookies is seen to many as a campaign against transgender people and their lifestyle. And that could perhaps be her point-of-view, however, she does not state anywhere in the video that she hates transgender people and that she believes they should be discriminated against. What she is pressing is the need for the GSUSA to address the concerns that girls and their families have with the issue and find a solution that best suits the needs of as many people as possible. For that, she deserves a great deal of credit, being that she had to have known when posting the video that she was going to get a harsh string of backlash since it is such a touchy subject, yet continued to pursue the goal she believes in. She makes points that vary in strength, but her overall argument was strong enough to envoke passion in many people and get her opinion heard, and for a teenage girl that’s enough in itself to be proud of.

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1 Response to Cookie Boycott — Cassie Hoffman

  1. davidbdale says:

    You’re good, Cassie. I know right away I’m in capable hands when I read “what she believes to be Girl Scout protocol”! 🙂

    The punctuation, rhetoric, and syntax of your opening paragraph is really strong except where it gets hung up on the obvious problem of how to refer to transgender children using pronouns. First you call the questionable scouts boys, then as “a child,” then refer to “their family.” It’s a mess, obviously, and an understandable one. Maybe the GSUSA is admitting transgender children into the program as long as the children and their parents identify the them as girls?

    Here’s a very unclear sentence: What is extremely interesting though, is that she chose to use that dedication to advocating her beliefs that the Girl Scouts program has taught her in an effort to undermine the entire organization.

    I like your second paragraph too, Cassie. Here’s a way to make it better: “But what is also one of the important aspects” becomes: “But another important aspect.”

    Your argument is substantially values vs. values, Cassie. You promote inclusiveness and accuse Taylor of exclusiveness. This works for you because transgenders are not a radically different category for you than girls. But if the GSUSA were admitting badgers, would your argument hold any value? Taylor thinks transgenders are badgers. Can you refute that?

    Your strongest work, Cassie, and it’s quite good, is in proposing that individual troops decide their comfort level with any particular scout. The word discrimination is, of course, loaded, and using it can scare weak participants from any argument. But it’s clearly discrimination of a different type to exclude bad ballplayers from your professional team. Some cases are really unclear: can you exclude an arrogant jerk from your club? As you say, the Scouts are in a bind. Taylor thinks they have a right to limit membership to girls, just as professional sports teams do, and the Olympics do. She’s making a simple categorical claim: Bobby Montoya does not belong in the girl category.

    I greatly admire your appreciation for Taylor’s commitment, Cassie. Very nice work overall.

    Grade Recorded.

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