The Girl Scouts of the USA was started by Juliette Gordon Low in 1912. Someone in your family may have been a Girl Scout when she was a child.
The Girls Scouts of the USA serves 1.9 million girls today. Juliette Gordon Low believed in the potential of all girls and the importance of fostering their individual growth, character, and self-sufficiency. She met with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, in 1912 and became inspired to establish the Girl Scouts.
Right from the start, the Girl Scouts was breaking the social conventions of the time in order to do what was best for all girls. The first gathering of a troop of Girl Scouts included 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls. This group reached across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries. It included girls with disabilities.
In the 1920’s, Girl Scouting expanded across the United States. The first Girl Scout troops were launched in China, Syria, and Mexico. A Girl Scout troop formed on the Onondaga Reservation in New York State in 1921. It was one of the earliest Native American Girl Scout troops. In 1922, Mexican American girls formed a Girl Scout troop in Houston, Texas.
In the 1930’s, the Girls Scouts produced a booklet titled “Who Are the Girl Scouts?” It was printed in Yiddish, Italian, and Polish. Girl Scouts collected clothing and food for those in need during the Great Depression.
During World War II, Girl Scout troops collected scrap metal, grew Victory Gardens, and sponsored Defense Institutes that taught women survival skills and techniques for comforting children during air raids. Japanese-American Girl Scouts, who were confined to interment camps in Utah and California, established Girl Scout troops.
In the 1950’s Girl Scouts assembled “Kits for Korea” – pouches of items needed by Korean citizens. The Girl Scouts held “Speak Out” conferences in the 1960’s to lend their voices to the fight for racial equality.
Gloria D. Scott was the first African American woman to be elected as the Girl Scouts national board president in 1970’s. In 2005, the Girl Scouts elected Patricia Diaz Dennis. She was the first Latina to serve in that role. In 2014, Kathy Hannan Ho-Chunk was elected. She was the first woman of Native American ancestry to hold that position.
In 2012, the Girl Scouts welcomed transgender girls to join. This decision fit with the foundation of diversity that Juliette Gordon Low established. Chief Girl Expert Andrea Bastani Archibald wrote “If a girl is recognized by her family, school, and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her in a setting that is both emotionally and physically safe.”
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