Trimming the Christmas Bigotry
My daughter was recently telling me about a friend of hers, a lesbian who’s at a seminary, studying to be a minister. The friend comes from a wildly religious “born-again” family; her closest relatives regularly use the most vile language to refer to gays. “I don’t think she’ll ever come out to her family,” Marcy said sadly. “The thing is, I tell her: If they knew you were gay, they wouldn’t talk that way about gay people. They would still love you.”
I thought about that conversation when I read about three Louisiana Girl Scout troops that have disbanded to protest the decision by a Colorado troop to accept a transgendered child—a boy who is living as a girl—as a member. One of the Louisiana troop leaders, Susan Bryant-Snure, had three daughters in Scouting. She told the Baptist Press that the Girl Scouts’ policy of inclusion was “extremely confusing” and created an “almost dangerous situation” for her children. So she’s taking her kids to the American Heritage Girls, a competing program founded in 1995 by parents protesting Girl Scouting’s decision to allow Scouts to substitute other words for “God” when they recite their pledge. The AHG has signed a “Memorandum of Mutual Support” with the Boy Scouts of America—which, any Philadelphian knows, has a long and chequered history of anti-gay stands—to “work together in faith-based groups.”
I was a Girl Scout leader from the time my daughter was 7 until she was about 14. I had my differences with the regional and national leadership from time to time, but on the grassroots level, I never saw anything but caring and love. I worked and played alongside moms and grandmoms who were taking time out of their over-busy lives to try to build a cocoon of warmth and acceptance for young girls who weren’t always finding those qualities in the world, or even in their families. Those are tough, tough years for a girl, in grade school and middle school. On camping trips, in volleyball games, in silly skits and goofy craft projects and visits to sing Christmas carols at the old folks’ home, we were struggling to show that worth doesn’t have to depend on what other people think of you; it can come down to how you feel about yourself. Most importantly, we tried to give every girl a place where she belonged.
So good for the Girl Scouts of Colorado, for extending that inclusion to a seven-year-old who doesn’t even feel he belongs in his own body. (And if you have doubts about a kid that age being able to draw that kind of conclusion, I’d suggest you read this amazing, tortured story.) As for you, Susan Bryant-Snure, you have every right to do with your family as you please. But I’ve got to say, it seems downright pharisaic to condemn Girl Scouting in the name of Jesus, the baby for whom there was no room at the inn.