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  • Caitlyn Burge-Surles

Fort Worth Mother Establishes Youth-Led LGBTQ+ Girl Scout Troop in Honor of Pride Month

Richel Newborg, a mother in Fort Worth, has established a youth-led, LGBTQ+-focused Girl Scout troop in honor of Pride Month.

Troop 02777 traces its roots to Newborg’s daughters, who created a “Pride Crew” to offer fellow scouts a safe space. It welcomes girls from many different troops in the DFW area and is meant to provide an environment where LGBTQ+ scouts can interact over their experiences with friends and trained adults.

Tori McDonald, a 15-year-old member of Troop 02777, said to Good Morning America that “[the troop] provides a space where I can talk with people my age about those experiences of our family and stuff.” Newborg stated in an interview that “Texas is a scary place right now for transgender kids” and further explained that a parent of a transgender child in her “Mama Bears” friend group had expressed concerns about where her child could go to find community and activities.

Newborg continued, "A couple of the girls said, 'Gosh, I have some friends that are LGBTQ, but they don't know, like, is Girl Scouts friendly to that community?'… and a few of our girls in our troop had come out to me and it just sort of started this great conversation about how do we communicate to people when something is accepting, welcoming….”

Contrary to Newborg’s doubts about the inclusiveness of Girl Scouts of the USA, the organization (as well as Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains) has publicly asserted its support of the LGBTQ+ community. Girl Scouts published a guide to accompany their Pride Month patch, writing that “Each Girl Scout—regardless of her socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, physical or cognitive ability, sexual orientation, primary language, political belief, or religion—is an equal and valued member of the group, and groups reflect the diversity of the community.” This guide utilizes terminology from the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to describe various sexualities and sexual identification methods, as well as define “systems of oppression.”

The Pride Month patch guide includes lists of activities that Girl Scouts can fulfill to earn their patch, including attending a Pride celebration, watching documentaries of the life of Harvey Milk, and reading Jazz Jennings’ memoir I Am Jazz.

Girl Scouts of the USA further notes in their FAQ page that the organization “does not take a position or develop materials on [social] issues.” However, regarding transgender Scouts, the organization affirms that “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.”

Girls Scouts is privately funded and recently received an $84.5 million donation (their largest yet) from the ex-wife of billionaire Jeff Bezos, Mackenzie Scott. The organization’s ties to the corporate world also span to the family planning and abortion agency Planned Parenthood.

Regardless of Newborg’s awareness of the socio-political stance of the organization she serves, she shared with Good Morning America her enthusiasm for the evolution of the “Pride Crew” into a fully-fledged troop, mentioning that “So many of us have had our kids come out at the same time.”

According to Good Morning America and ABC News, Girl Scouts of the USA did not provide comments pertaining to Troop 02777.


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