The latest person to troll Girl Scout with her weird social hangups thinks people shouldn't buy their signature cookies because the scouts let a transgender girl in last year, but it looks like her plan is going to backfire and cookie sales will climb. A video appeared last week, featuring a Ventura, Ca. girl identified only as Taylor, who said the organization was using proceeds from the cookie sales to promote "the desires of a small handful of people," Huffington Post reported on Wednesday. Sherry Sybesma, the chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of California's Central Coast, confirmed to us that the girl in the video is registered as a member of the council she runs. From what Girl Scouts administrators told us, and from what we're seeing online, the boycott effort is going to lead to more sales, if anything, from indignant supporters of the scouts and their decision last fall to accept a Colorado transgender kid named Bobby Montoya as a member. The group that apparently produced the video, called Honest Girl Scouts, has already started to walk it back.
On Thursday, Honest Girl Scouts made the video private after it racked up more than 125,000 views on YouTube before it was made private. We reached out to Honest Girl Scouts, and they sent us this one-line response: "Our counsel has advised us not to make statements until further notice. Thank you for your patience." We suspect, however, that they took it down because of the huge backlash calling on people to buy lots of extra cookies in response (more on that later). You can't watch the video, but Huffington Post transcribed some of Taylor's spiel:
"Right now, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A...is not being honest with us girls, its troops, its leaders, its parents or the American public," Taylor, who claims to have been a Girl Scout for eight years, says in the clip. "Girl Scouts describes itself as an all-girl experience. With that label, families trust that the girls will be in an environment that is not only nurturing and sensitive to girls' needs, but also safe for girls."
She goes on to note, "I am asking you to take action with me and boycott Girl Scout Cookies."
Taylor and Honest Girl Scouts say the scouts' decision to accept Montoya goes against their values by "promot[ing] abortion and LGBT agendas" and, weirdly, "support[ing] United Nations anti-population goals." The video's down but they've posted a PDF on their website explaining the boycott a little more. That's a screenshot from the flyer on the left. They're asking people to distribute the flyer as one of the many campaigns on their website alleging things like Girl Scout collusion with Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action league.
But Girl Scouts USA doesn't take the boycott threat very seriously. Both Sybesma and a spokesman at the scouts' New York Headquarters quoted from the official Girl Scouts of the United States of America statement when we reached them on the phone: "As a beloved American institution, the Girl Scout Cookie Program is a natural target for those seeking to draw attention to themselves or their cause." And both said this boycott, charged as it is with gender politics, probably wouldn't make a big dent. But outside the official line, it sounded like sales would be good. Josh Ackley, the GSUSA spokesman, pointed out that there are boycotts every year (indeed, another boycott call right now protests the renovation of two Girl Scout camps in Ohio), and that sales have been growing regardless, with 760 million boxes sold in 2011 and 714 in 2010.
The cookie drive is in its very early stages, and the Central California scouts haven't started selling theirs yet. But Sybesma said most of the feedback she'd gotten (and she said it was a lot), was supportive of the scouts and Montoya, and of course the cookie drive. "Most of the responses I have seen have been from people who believe in tolerance and believe in inclusiveness and want Girl Scouting to stand for inclusiveness and tolerance," she said. She was too polite to say so, but Sybesma seemed to think the whole boycott idea was silly. "It’s a little like boycotting coffee to get congress to rescind a woman’s right to vote," she said.
People online were a lot less guarded. "i'm a vegan but this makes me want to buy a box of girl scout cookies or twenty boxes," tweeted @Stella_Zine. "BUY GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!! Counter-Boycott the Girl Scouts!" tweeted someone going only by Heather, who linked to a Feministing blog post calling for the counter-boycott. "Um, this makes me want to buy more girl scout cookies, not less. who is this kid to decide what makes someone a girl?" tweeted Barbie Angell. You get the point. A Twitter search for "Girl Scout cookies" turned up hundreds of similar messages. Gothamist ordered its readers to "start buying ALL THE GIRL SCOUT COOKIES EVER." Transgender adult film performer Buck Angel, who says he's a former Girl Scout, made the Los Angeles Times with his plea for people to buy more cookies:
It seems like every little Tumblr and blog that has anything to do with gay or transgender rights, and tons that don't, is pushing readers to buy boxes of cookies. And really, does it take much convincing to get people to pick up an extra box of Thin Mints for the freezer and maybe a box of Samoas to eat on the way home? No it does not.