In spite of identifying as a boy, a Vancouver, Washington highschooler has recently received the Girl Scouts’ highest award, the Gold Award.
In an interview earlier this month with AM Northwest host Helen Raptis, Casey Ellson, alongside her mother, Theresa, discussed the experience of attending Girl Scouts as a “boy.”
“Girl Scouts gives every girl or every member an opportunity to be an individual,” Teresa told the interviewer. “It gives them confidence it gives them a place to be themselves, and I think that in itself is very important.”
Ellson’s Gold Award project, in which Scouts must take on the “issues of the world,” was a video bringing awareness about teen suicide.
When asked why she picked the topic for her project, Ellson said it’s because there is so much public awareness about global issues like the climate, but “nobody talks about [suicide] because it’s a sad, depressing topic. That’s exactly why we need to talk about it.”
Ellson reveals that she had struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past—something we’ve reported is a common thread among young people, especially girls, who identify as transgender.
According to The Columbian, Ellson joined Girl Scouts at age 5 when her brother joined Boy Scouts. At the time, she says, Boy Scouts did not allow girls to join.
As Ellson grew, however, her family feared that her identity as a male could risk her place in the Girl Scouts, so they rushed to finish her Gold Award project before she begins subjecting her body to “gender therapy” drugs and treatments.
Ellson’s troop leader, Brandy Clarno, told The Columbian that communication from the organization hasn’t always been clear regarding whether or not they allow girls who have begun medically “transitioning” to remain in Girl Scouts.
Clarno says she called a Scouts office when Ellson first started “transitioning,” claiming that she was told Ellson would no longer be considered eligible to be a Girl Scout.
“That’s what I was told a couple years back,” Clarno said. “So we were like, ‘OK, Casey’s not doing that (yet), so we’re good. We’ll get Casey done with the Gold Award.'”
Sarah Shipe, director of communications at Girl Scouts of Oregon and Southwest Washington, however, told the Columbian that the Girl Scouts organization doesn’t ask its members for sensitive medical information about hormone treatment or other medical procedures.
“That level of specificity isn’t really part of our process,” she said. “I think it’s more about that child’s identity and how they and their family and their school community recognize them. We don’t have a policy about hormone therapy. We don’t ask people that as a condition. It’s private medical information.”
“We really help Girl Scouts as individuals,” said Shipe. “Just like in any other situation, we take all of those case by case and find out what they need. We are a girl-serving organization. And we don’t ask people to identify when they become members.”
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