You’ve probably heard in the news lately that a few people around the US are calling for a boycott of Girl Scout cookies. These folks are upset because they feel that money from sold Girl Scout cookies is being used to fund horrible things like allowing transgender children to participate in Scout groups. They do not feel their money should be spent on such a disturbing facet of the Girl Scout experience.
Normally I do not touch issues like this on this blog but I can’t sit silently by and watch this one unfold, and there is a very simple reason for that. Lives are at stake. Lives have already been lost, in fact. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the lives of our young people who are transgender, gay, or in any other way “abnormal” by certain peoples’ societal standards.
So why is this Girl Scout cookie boycott good? Because it gives us some momentum to talk about this silent epidemic that is sweeping away far, far too many young people. It gives us a chance to dissect how these societal biases work. It gives us a chance to put the recent suicide of teenager Eric James Borges into a context that will create, hopefully, finally, a sense of urgency.
is was Eric James Borges
You might remember the “It gets better” movement that spread like wildfire across the internet. It was a brief window of time when the nation and the online world was focusing, with both eyes, on the increasing number of youths who are taking their own lives. Eric James Bourges created a video as part of this movement (you can watch it here). In it, he explains how his mother tried to perform an exorcism on him to eradicate him of his gay tendencies. He talks about being spit on, being beaten up, and being threatened. Despite all that had happened to him, he put out this message trying to help other people. But now we have lost him.
The devastating truth
Eric is not the first person we have lost because of this lack of humanity within our society. Check out these horrifying statistics about suicides amongst the LGBT community from a site called Laura’s Playground. Maybe you remember the story of Tyler Clementi, whose roommate videotaped Tyler in a gay encounter and then posted the video online. Or maybe you remember countless other stories that have surfaced over the last few years.
So now, against this backdrop, we have people who are asking us to boycott Girl Scout cookies because a few transgender kids, despite all of their pressure to not be true to themselves, despite all of society’s penchant for treating them like low-life scumbags, despite all of that, they want to try to participate in an organization that promotes being the best you can be and including everyone.
Don’t these kids have enough to deal with? Can’t we let them try to find friendship? Can’t we let them experience the things I experienced as a Girl Scout, like camping, hiking, learning how to read a compass, and learning how charity can come in millions of different shapes and forms? Can’t we let them have a little breather away from the bullying and misunderstanding they have to face? It seems some would answer those questions in the negative. No. We have to once again shine the spotlight on those who do not live the way we think they should live. The fact that they are children is irrelevant. Let’s boycott Girl Scout cookies because a few kids tried to have something fun happen in lives that are likely complex in more ways than we can grasp.
How much blood do we want on our hands?
The kind of ignorance, cruelty, malice, and ostracizing that we are seeing in this scenario is running rampant in our country behind a million closed doors, within a million classrooms, and with millions of witnesses who stand by and say nothing. How many jewels are we losing, jewels like Eric Borges who even in the pit of despair tried to reach out and help others avoid suicide? What kinds of strong people are we losing? What kinds of amazing people are we losing? And when do we finally say, “Huh…I think this might be a problem”?
To me, this issue is really not about Girl Scout cookies. It’s not even about Girl Scouts as an organization. It’s about a cancer in our society that we are allowing to eat away at not us, but at our children. Whether our children are victims or aggressors, the damage is being done.
Let’s use this opportunity to talk about this. Let’s use this opportunity to show our support to a group of young people who sadly often receives the exact opposite. Let’s use this opportunity to make a really positive change in how our society operates.
I don’t want to lose another precious Eric Borges.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/hinnosaar/4373634220/ via Creative Commons