SEATTLE MET | A $50,000 donation is cause for celebration at the Queen Anne offices of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington. “We have these little clapper thingies, and the clappers go mad when we get that kind of gift,” says the council’s CEO, Megan Ferland. So when Ferland came back to the office earlier this spring and announced that she’d just landed a $100,000 donation, the place went mad. Not only did it represent nearly a quarter of the council’s annual fundraising goal, it would pay to send 500 girls to camp. “We were thrilled,” Ferland says.
Except there was a catch. In late May, as news of Caitlyn Jenner’s transition was blowing up your Facebook news feed, she received a letter from the donor with a brief request: Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.
Ferland chooses her words carefully when discussing the donor, whose identity she won’t reveal out of respect for their privacy. “The relationship is complex,” is all she’ll say. But she does admit to being “very sad” upon receiving the letter. Shortly after that, though, she made up her mind about how to respond: In a short letter, she informed the donor that she would, in fact, be returning the money. Her reasoning was simple. “Girl Scouts is for every girl,” she says. “And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.”
This is the second time in less than five years that a Girl Scouts council has taken a public stand to support transgender girls, and both times Ferland was at the center of the story. In 2012, when she headed the organization’s Colorado council, a 7-year-old transgender girl in Denver was denied entry to a troop. Although the council had never specifically said that it accepted transgender girls, the national organization had always made inclusivity the foundation of its mission. So after checking with the council’s attorney, Ferland issued a public statement welcoming transgender girls and explaining that the council was working to find a troop for the girl who’d been rejected.
“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 says. “And I don’t question whether or not they’re a girl.”
She’s not shying away from controversy this time, either … Read the full story!