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Girl Scouts accepts transgender kid, provokes cookie boycott

By Katia Hetter, Special to CNN
updated 7:23 PM EST, Fri January 13, 2012
Bobby Montoya wanted to join the Girl Scouts, setting off a national debate.
Bobby Montoya wanted to join the Girl Scouts, setting off a national debate.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A group is calling for national boycott of Girl Scout cookies because of transgender issues
  • Members of transgender and gay rights groups are buying cookies in response
  • The Girl Scouts welcome children who identify as girls

(CNN) -- The Girl Scout cookie can't seem to catch a break.

Under fire in years past for including trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and palm oil in its cookies, the Girl Scouts' current cookie selling season is under fire because of policies that have nothing to do with the actual composition of the cookies.

A group calling itself HonestGirlScouts.com has posted a YouTube video calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies in response to a Colorado troop's decision to allow a 7-year-old transgender child into its troop. Gay rights and transgender rights groups have reported a grassroots LGBT movement of supporters buying Girl Scout cookies in response to the video.

"I've decided to purchase as many boxes as my modest budget will allow and donate them to the local LGBTQ community center," says Mara Morken, a lesbian stay-at-home mom in Fargo, North Dakota. "I want to show support for GSUSA in their honorable decision to allow all girls to participate in their programs. However I do not want that support to show itself on my thighs, so I will donate the entire cookie order!"

After an initial burst of publicity around the nearly 8-minute video featuring a teen Girl Scout wearing a Girl Scout sash, the video has been made private on YouTube. However, it's still available for viewing elsewhere on the Internet.

"I ask all fellow Girl Scouts who want a true, all-girl experience not to sell any Girl Scouts cookies until GSUSA (Girl Scouts of the USA) addresses our concerns," says the girl, identified as a teen named Taylor, a troop member from California, in some news reports. "I ask all parents who want their girls to be in a safe environment to tell their leaders why you will not allow your girls to make any more money for GSUSA."

The video was prompted by the case of Bobby Montoya, whose mother told a CNN affiliate in October that a troop leader initially told her that Bobby couldn't join the troop because Bobby "has boy parts," even though her child identifies as a girl.

The Girl Scouts of Colorado blamed the initial decision to exclude the child on ignorance of the scouts' policy. The state scouts said Bobby was welcome to join Girl Scouts. "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," said the Colorado Girl Scouts, in a statement to a CNN affiliate.

The Honest Girl Scouts website says that the Girl Scouts use cookie income to promote "abortion and LGBT agendas," introduces Girl Scouts to "the concept of sexual rights for children without parent consent" and is rewriting badge books to include "radical activists and gay role models."

On its website, HonestGirlScouts.com states that the group is comprised of current and former Girl Scouts, leaders, parents, volunteers and lifetime members. When contacted via its listed Gmail account to comment, someone replied that the group's "legal counsel has advised us not to comment or do interviews until further notice."

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, dismissed the video as an attempt by conservative activists to raise funds. "This issue not withstanding, the Girl Scouts is a really good organization," says Keisling. "It's been a really good place for kids to learn things. (This controversy) will die down. We as a society are progressing and the outdated reactionary attitude that poor girl was put up to in that video, those attitudes are dying out."

Other LGBT groups are taking a tongue-in-check approach to the debate, encouraging people to eat more Girl Scout cookies. "Girl Scout cookies may not be so great for your waistline but they are great for being inclusive," says Liz Owen, spokeswoman for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (P-FLAG). Owen reports hearing from people who decided to break their New Year's resolutions to go on a diet with a Girl Scout cookies purchase.

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