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Lisa Belkin

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Girl Scout Video: What Were Her Parents Thinking?

Posted: 01/12/12 11:52 AM ET

I shall be buying extra Girl Scout Cookies this year. How about you?

Watching the smug video of a Girl Scout from California as she went viral yesterday asking us to boycott those cookies as a protest against -- gasp -- the policy that allows troops to include transgender children who live as girls, all I could think was "what were her parents thinking?"

(UPDATE: This video was made private by the user on Jan. 12, 2012.)

The holier-than-thou 14-year-old, who is identified only as Taylor, reads primly from an off-camera script that she most certainly did not craft all by herself. Mom and Dad may or may not have written it, but they clearly created it, with years of teaching their daughter that she is very, very special, and that anyone different is, as she says, "a threat" to that specialness.

Many years ago, my son, who was still in elementary school, left the Boy Scouts in a similar -- but very different -- protest. That organization had done the opposite of what the GSA just did ; the BSA went all the way to the Supreme Court to fight for the right to ban gays as troop leaders.

So my husband and I sat Evan down and explained discrimination, and the responsibility of every individual, even a nine-year-old, to fight against it. We quoted the line about evil being triumphant when good men do nothing. He loved the Boy Scouts, but he trusted his parents view of the world, as children usually do. We have that kind of power, we grown-ups. And we have the responsibility to use our powers for good.

Well, you say, don't Taylor's parents think they are doing exactly that? If they truly believe that a youngster struggling with questions of identity and gender is a threat to their child, then aren't they obligated to spread the word?

I am not using this space to question their beliefs, as intolerant and sanctimonious as I might find them. And I'm not even questioning their right to share those beliefs with their daughter. What I am here to question is their parenting. I would bet the annual Thin Mint profits on the fact that Taylor did not decide to make her video without Mom and Dad's encouragement. Which means, in an age of viral videos that follow you for a lifetime, her parents thought it wise to allow their daughter to stand up and announce herself as a target for all the backlash that has, predictably, come her way.

After our talk with Evan all those years ago, it occurred to us that we'd best tell six-year-old Alex what was going on, since he expected to follow his brother into scouting. We explained what gay meant (he rolled his eyes and made it clear this was old news) and what intolerance was (sadly, he knew all about that,too) and that because the Boy Scouts were being intolerant toward gays, Evan and a group of his friends were going to leave the organization.

Alex thought for a moment then said, matter-of-factly, "Oh, I didn't know Evan was gay." So then we scrambled to explain, that he wasn't, or, that he might be, because many people don't discover or share what they are until they are older, and Evan was only nine, and, anyway, that wasn't really the point at the moment. But maybe it was. Because the lesson should be that we are not talking about "them" when we talk about discrimination; we are potentially talking about any one of us, anyone we know. We might even be talking about a few of Taylor's friends, or the children she might one day have.

And then she shall really regret having made a video about this.

NOTE: I see the video has been made private, which at least protects Taylor from becoming more of a target. That was the right decision.

For those who did not see it while it was still available, and who have asked for a description: it was several minutes of a self-possessed teen expressing outrage that the Girl Scouts' literature was all about the benefits of single sex activities and yet they also allow transgender children. She felt that the GSUSA had kept that policy a secret from parents and members, and then went on to quote some very public statements made by Scouting officials, making one wonder how she could think it was being kept secret.