Girl Scouts Welcome Transgender Child to Troop

Thursday, October 27, 2011 - 3:43pm

DENVER- Everyone has their favorite toys, no matter what age they are. For 7-year-old Bobby Montoya, it's Bratz, Barbies and Strawberry Shortcake.

"I like girl stuff," Bobby says.

Bobby is a 7-year-old boy. His mother refers to him as a "he," but Bobby dresses and behaves like a girl.

"Bobby identifies as a girl, and he's a boy," Felisha Archuleta, Bobby's mom, explains. "He's been doing this since he was about 2 years old. He's loved girl stuff, so we just let him dress how he wants, as long as he's happy."

Bobby is happy most of the time, but he says, sometimes in school, being a boy and dressing like a girl occasionally is tough. He's been bullied.

"It's hurting my heart," Bobby says. "It hurts me and my mom both."

Recently, Archuleta wanted to sign Bobby up for Girl Scouts. His older sister did it, and Bobby really wanted to join. Archuleta says when she brought Bobby to register, a troop leader told her Bobby couldn't join.

"It was like somebody told me I can't like girl stuff, and I have to change my name to something else," Bobby said.

Girl Scouts of Colorado released this statement:

"Girl Scouts is an inclusive organization and we accept all girls in Kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child's family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout. Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children, their families and the volunteers who serve them. In this case, an associate delivering our program was not aware of our approach. She contacted her supervisor, who immediately began working with the family to get the child involved and supported in Girl Scouts. We are accelerating our support systems and training so that we're better able to serve all girls, families and volunteers."

Corey Barrett with the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center of Colorado says the Center is seeing young people exploring their gender identity at an earlier age.

"There has definitely been this increase of questioning at an early age," Barrett said, "I think it's all about providing a healthy environment for them for that to happen. Everyone needs to be prepared or at least have an idea from a policy and procedure stand point how they're going to address that. And make sure that the public is aware of that."

Dr. Shawn Worthy is a professor and clinical psychologist with Metropolitan State College of Denver, who specializes in family systems and mental health within family frameworks.

"I have a general philosophy about parenting," Dr. Worthy said. "Children are born like rocks. I mean, they're rough around the edges, and our job as parents is to flow over them like a stream and smooth out the rough edges. The problem is when you try to mold them into what you want, you have to break them, you have to crack them, you have to change the shape. And when people aren't whole, and they aren't who they fully intend to be, then that's a difficult process also."

Dr. Worthy has some parenting tips for those parents who are going through this debate.

"If I were talking to my kids I would say, 'You know what, we determine how great people by who they are, by how kind they are, how smart they are, by what kind of people they are and not by how they dress, or the color of their skin or any other of those physical properties.' Cause those are just external manifestations. I would encourage my kids to get to know the person and then make a decision if that's a good person, if that's a good friend or not," Dr. Worthy said.
 

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