Its motto is "be prepared." But there's a limit to everything, and at least one young member of America's Scouting movement is deeply unprepared for its forward-thinking efforts to embrace modernity.
A teenage Girl Scout from southern California has been thrust to the centre of the culture wars, after starring in a viral video that attacked the organisation's little-known recruitment policy allowing transgendered children to join its ranks.
The 14-year-old girl, who hails from Ventura County, near Los Angeles, is identified only as Taylor in the five-minute clip. She uses the video to take issue with a decision by a Girl Scout troop from Colorado to let a seven-year-old child called Bobby Montoya – who was born a boy but identifies as a girl – become a member.
Her statement, which she appears to read from an autocue, calls for a nationwide boycott of "Girl Scout Cookies", a brand of biscuits sold by members during the annual fundraising drive each spring.
"Girl Scouts describes itself as an all-girl experience," she says. "With that label, families trust that their children will be in an environment that is not only nurturing and sensitive to a girl's needs, but also safe for girls." Having a seven-year-old boy in the ranks, she implies, is a safety hazard.
Taylor complains that the Scout movement "cares more about promoting the desires of a small handful of people than it does about my safety and the safety of my friends. And they are doing it with the money we earn for them by selling Girl Scout Cookies." The video was uploaded to YouTube last week and became a national talking point, not to mention a punchline on the late-night chat-show circuit, where comedians speculated wildly as to what fundamentalist religion the girl's family belongs.
It later emerged that it had been created with the help of an organisation calling itself Honest Girl Scouts, which claims to be made up of current and former Girl Scout members and volunteers who are upset by what they believe are the movement's efforts to brainwash children with woolly liberalism.
According to its website, the organisation believes that Girl Scouts foist "pro-lesbian, pro-abortion" views on members, and attempt to provide them with "graphic" sex education. It also claims that Anna Maria Chavez, the new CEO of the Girl Scout movement, belongs to a "pro-abortion feminist coalition".
However. Honest Girl Scouts declined to elaborate on these views, claiming via email that "legal counsel has advised us not to comment or do interviews until further notice".
Taylor's comments sparked a backlash from the gay rights community, which called on supporters to purchase large quantities of Girl Scout Cookies.
The all-American brouhaha focused renewed attention on the case of Bobby Montoya, whose struggle to be accepted into a Girl Scout troop in Colorado made headlines last year. He was prevented from joining on the grounds that he "had boy parts", but was later admitted after it was established that official Girl Scout policy was to be welcoming to transgender children.
A spokesman for the movement, said: "We handle cases involving transgender children on a case-by-case basis, with a focus on ensuring the welfare and best interests of the child in question and the other girls in the troop as our highest priority."Reuse content