The Duggar Family, the Girl Scouts, and the Christian Right's War on Transgender People
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu May 28, 2015 at 10:23:19 AM EST
If the US Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage next month, do not expect religious right organizations to fold up their tents and go home. If anything, they will amp up the hysteria with email alerts (and fundraising appeals) squawking about the assault on traditional marriage. While they will continue to agitate around same-sex marriage, there will be a not so subtle shift to another culture war battle; the fight over transgender equality.

Although there are many culture war battles still to be contested, e.g., abortion, prayer in the schools, book, television and film censorship, and the mother of all fights, the religious right's distorted views of religious freedom, the battle over transgender equality is ripe for the picking. After all, transgender people are some of the few people left that the religious right can attack and demonize.

In recent years, Christian right groups have fulminated, huffed and puffed, and raised money to fight attempts to prevent discrimination against transgender youth, especially in regards to bullying, the use of bathrooms and the participation in athletics in the public schools.

Michelle Duggar brings the hate

Last August, Michelle Duggar, who stars in the now-suspened TLC hit show, "19 Kids and Counting," with her husband, Jim Bob, and children, and who was intimately involved in covering up her son Josh's history of sexual molestation of young girls, viciously campaigned against an anti-discrimination bill in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

She said: "I don't believe... citizens... would want males with past child predator convictions that claim they are female to have a legal right to enter private areas that are reserved for women and girls."

Duggar poured it on thick: "I doubt that Fayetteville parents would stand for a law that would endanger their daughters or allow them to be traumatized by a man joining them in their private space. We should never place the preference of an adult over the safety and innocence of a child. Parents, who do you want undressing next to your daughter at the public swimming pool's private changing area? I still believe that we are a society that puts women and children first.'

In January 2013, Political Research Associates' Miriam Zoila Perez pointed out that "Christian Right groups like Focus on the Family, Family Research Council (FRC), and the American Family Association (AFA) share an aversion to trans people that motivates their campaigns..." Those groups tend to disparage "boys who dress as girls" and insist that "gender identity" is an immoral "choice."

Targeting the Girl Scouts

These days, however, conservative Christians are once again turning their ire on the Girl Scouts.

According to Americans United for Separation of Church and State's blog, Wall of Separation, the Girl Scouts of America (GSUSA) "officially announced that transgender girls" would be "welcome to join its local troops." Supporters of transgender equality were overjoyed by the open door policy; Christian fundamentalists, not so much.

"Placement of transgender youth is handled on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of the child and the members of the troop/group in question a top priority," GSUSA said in a statement, and added, "That said, if the child is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, then Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe."

Evidence of the religious right's dismay over the Girl Scouts' latest transgression is piling up faster than sweaty handkerchiefs at a mid-August Southern tent revival meeting.

Several Christian right organizations were quick to respond: The American Family Association (AFA) "started an online petition to help encourage the GSUSA to change its policy," The Christian Post's Samuel Smith recently reported.

"This means girls in the organization will be forced to recognize and accept transgenderism as a normal lifestyle," the petition states. "Boys in skirts, boys in makeup and boys in tents will become a part of the program. This change will put young innocent girls at risk."

"Adults are willing to experiment on our kids--both the boys who are confused and the girls who will wonder why a boy in a dress is in the bathroom with them," the petition adds.

In an interview with Fox News, Penny Nance, the president of Concerned Women For America, said: "They are no longer Girl Scouts, they are just scouts. That's fine if they want to rebrand. But it raises all kinds of complications and questions for parents, volunteer parents who are involved," Nance asserted. "How are they supposed to manage this? How are they supposed to protect their own children's privacy? It's very complicated and very difficult."

During an appearance on the AFA radio program entitled "Today's Issues" Nance claimed that GSUSA's policy serves a "slap in the face to Christian parents."

"And now this latest thing is just one more slap in the face to Christian parents," Nance asserted. "Now you don't have to be a girl to a member of Girl Scouts. You can just be questioning your gender or a boy who would like to be a girl."

"I think this is a place, frankly, for the church to be the church and for the people that are marginalized in society, for us to love them," Nance continued. "But, we also can't lose our minds."

As American United's Wall of Separation blog pointed out, "It's not the first time the AFA and other fundamentalist groups have taken aim at the GSUSA. The group is actually a perennial target for the Religious Right due to its alleged support for feminist causes, like LGBT rights and reproductive justice. GSUSA leadership say the organization doesn't have a position on abortion and birth control, but the fact that its social media accounts have honored pro-choice leaders like former Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis is more than enough to stoke the Religious Right's rage."

Nearly fifteen years ago, in 2001, I wrote a piece titled "Girl Scouts on the Firing Line" (http://www.alternet.org/story/11341/girl_scouts_on_the_firing_lin e), which discussed how Christian conservative organizations were attacking the Girl Scouts for the organization's supposed unbridled support of feminism and lesbianism.

Last year, in a piece titled "Conservatives Launch War on Cookies: Evangelicals Attack Girls Scouts USA" (http://www.truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/conservatives-launc h-war-on-cookies-evangelicals-attack-girls-scouts-usa/18450-conse rvatives-launch-war-on-cookies-evangelicals-attack-girls-scouts-u sa) I wrote about the launch of CookieCott 2014, an attempt to organize a boycott of Girl Scout cookies. That effort was endorsed by LifeNews, the American Life League, the Pro-Life Action League, the Radiance Foundation, blogger Jill Stanek, the National Black Pro-Life Union, the Issues4Life Foundation, and Life Coalition International.

The American Family Association got involved with an e-mail alert headlined ""Be informed: What Girl Scouts USA does with their cookie 'dough'."

Over the years, religious right organizations have perfected the art of inflicting pain and suffering on gays and lesbians. That was their go-to card, the appeal to supporters that was a slam-dunk fundraising tool. Now, transgender people are in the mix, and transgender people - particularly young transgender people -- know from pain and suffering. Hopefully, attacking the Girl Scouts for its open door policy toward transgender girls will backfire.




Display:
I don't remember getting nekkid at Girl Scout events in my community run troop. Religious-run GS troops are different? (Yes, intentional snark - undoubtedly there have been trans* girls in the Scouts before, just not publicized by panic-mongers)

by NancyP on Thu May 28, 2015 at 04:44:41 PM EST


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