Sammy Nickalls
Updated Jun 30, 2015 @ 2:47 pm
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The Girl Scouts of Western Washington recently received a totally amazing donation — a whopping $100,000 check. Amazing, right? “It is incredible for 500 girls who really need those opportunities,” CEO Megan Ferland told BuzzFeed News. Unfortunately, though, there was one stipulation: at the request of the donor, the organization must guarantee that it will not use the money to support transgender girls. If Girl Scouts could not make this promise, then the money must be returned.

It didn’t take Ferland much time to reply in a short letter to the donor (who had donated in the past): the money will be returned. “Girl Scouts is for every girl,” she told Seattle Met. “And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.”

For Ferland, the decision was obvious and straightforward. As she explained to BuzzFeed, “It was one of the of easiest decisions I’ve had to make. It was a sad decision, but it was a really quick one. . . I could not be put in a position where I would have to turn girls away.”

But that’s not where the story ends. The organization was not going to give up on those 500 girls. The Girl Scouts of Western Washington launched an amazing crowdfunding and social media campaign, #ForEVERYGirl, which not only is meant to spread awareness and empower transgender youth, but to raise the money that they had to give back. “$100,000 is a lot of money,” the organization wrote on its #ForEVERYGirl Kickstarter. “In fact, it’s almost a third of our entire financial assistance program for this year – and girls need this support now. That’s why losing this gift is such a big deal.”

In just one day, the Kickstarter surpassed its goal by almost $20,000, as of Tuesday. “The response has been so positive, supportive, and overwhelming,” Ferland told BuzzFeed. “My team and I appreciate it so much, because [of] what it means. So many girls are going to be able to have an amazing experience, and the impact of Girls Scouts is so profound. It is [life]-changing for so many girls. And that’s what it should be about.”

This is not the only time that the organization’s stance on transgender youth has been challenged. Last month, the American Family Association launched an online petition requesting that the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) change its policies on accepting transgender girls into its ranks. But Girl Scouts held firm: “If a girl is recognized by her family, school and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe,” Andrea Bastiani Archibald, Chief Girl Expert of GSUSA, wrote in in a post on the organization’s official website. “Inclusion of transgender girls is handled at a council level on a case by case basis, with the welfare and best interests of all members as a top priority.” YES.

Ferland herself has been a huge advocate for transgender rights in the organization. Back in 2012, when she headed the organization’s Colorado council, a seven-year-old transgender girl was denied a place in a Denver troop. In response, Ferland issued a public statement announcing that transgender girls are welcome, and that they will be looking to find a troop for the girl, according to Seattle Met.

“Every girl that is a Girl Scout is a Girl Scout because her parent or guardian brings her to us and says, ‘I want my child to participate,'” Ferland told Seattle Met. “And I don’t question whether or not they’re a girl.”

Though the Girl Scouts of Western Washington have surpassed their $100,000 goal on their IndieGoGo, they are still accepting donations. . . because Girl Scouts is #ForEVERYGirl. Thanks, Girl Scouts, for fighting for such an AMAZING cause and empowering young girls everywhere.