A big part of running a girl scout troop is making your troop a place where anyone is welcomed and valued. It is so important to make your troop a safe space for any young people who’d like to join the group. Part of that is becoming actively anti-racist. The Girl Scout organization has already put out a very helpful statement, which we will use as a source for the rest of the article.
The beginning of it states: “Our anti-racism pledge reflects who we are: an organization that is rooted in values set forth in our Girl Scout Law, including honesty, fairness, caring, courage, and respect for self and others. All of these are hallmarks of Girl Scouts’ broader commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and racial justice.” The values of Girl Scouts are something that are extremely important to share with students of all grade levels.
A great way to make a difference in your own community is to address social justice issues by enacting positive action in your own Girl Scout program. To help you out, I pooled together my own ideas and the Girl Scout organization’s suggestions and made a list of some of the best ways to be a good neighbor in your day-to-day life.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Leadership
There is a great way to show your Girl Scouts that you are committed to anti-racism: including all types of people in leadership. According to the Girl Scouts’ website, “Girl Scouts of the USA is convening a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Racial Justice Steering Committee to help create an organization that works for all girls. This means ensuring that Black, Indigenous, Latina, and all girls of color feel supported, welcomed, and treated with dignity and respect. The steering committee is made up of national board members, national staff, and Girl Scout council CEOs who are helping guide and prioritize this work.”
You can extend this effort down into your local councils and troops. If there aren’t people of color among your troop leaders, adult volunteers, board members, and other leadership positions, it’s important to ask yourself why and try to enact change in your own community. Having diverse leaders is good for everyone, and will really enrich your experiences as part of the Girl Scout movement.
- Acknowledge Systemic Racism
A big part of being a Girl Scout is supporting those who are playing an active role in fighting for social justice. Send letters of support to people who are enacting positive change. Don’t remain silent when you see any instances of racism– speak out, and teach your girls how to do the same. Examine how your own internal biases might be affecting any decisions you are making for your troop.
- Educate Your Scouts
Teach your girls about the racism that affects people all over the world in their daily lives– from everyday discrimination from peers to government programs and a broken education system that oppress minorities. Show them how they can fight racism through their volunteering efforts and lifestyle. And never believe you’re “done” learning either. Be willing to have some awkward conversations and receive correction.
- Donate to Racial Justice Programs
You know the saying “put your money where your mouth is?” This is an extremely important part of being committed to anti-racism. If you and your girls conduct fundraisers, it’s important to consider donating to organizations that can help families of color. This can teach scouts of even the earliest ages to consider the well-being of those around them, and make your group a welcoming space for people who need to see real action from you as a leader.
- Empower Your Scouts
One of the biggest purposes of Girl Scouts is to pass the torch on important issues by creating the next generation of strong, compassionate leaders. Making sure your girls have everything they need to stand up for themselves and others is a huge part of this process. As the Girl Scout organization says, “All girls’ voices must be heard. We will provide all girls a place where they feel heard, and where they have the resources and support they need to raise their voices and change their corner of the world.”
Dismantling racism is an enormous work that can only be changed with the collective power of us all working together, and there is a LONG way to go.
That being said, an equal world is something worth pursuing hand-in-hand with the younger generation. If you take a lead role in opposing racism, you can make an impactful change that will cause ripples in your district, troop, and community.