Girl Scouts, civil rights, and white racial resentment

Below is an interesting article detailing a lawsuit filed against a Georgia Girl Scouts organization. The lawsuit, filed last week, was a result of the expulsion of two sisters from their Girl Scout troop after they gave a presentation on the civil rights movement. 

The audience and other troop leaders did not respond well to the civil rights presentation. According to the suit, “The only applause [the presenters] received was from the other two African American girls and one Indian girl in attendance.”

The response to the young girls’ presentation is not surprising coming from a largely white audience. In fact, this reaction is all too common. The civil rights movement does not reflect favorably on most Southern whites and, therefore, discussion of the movement is often met with resistance and resentment from white audiences. It will be interesting to watch the suit unfold and hear the response (if any) from the Girls Scouts of America . MW

Ga. mom sues Girl Scouts claiming daughters were expelled after civil rights presentation 

By Associated Press

ATLANTA — An Atlanta-area mother has filed a lawsuit against a Girl Scouts organization alleging that her twin daughters were expelled from their troop after they gave a presentation on their family’s involvement in the civil rights movement.Angela Johnson filed the suit last week in Gwinnett County State Court, claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence. The suit says the troop leaders knew an expulsion would cause the girls harm and that the organization had a responsibility to repair the situation.

In a statement, the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta says the girls weren’t expelled and calls the incident a “disagreement between well-intentioned moms,” referring to Johnson and the troop leaders.The 8-year-old twins gave a presentation in March for their “family heritage project” that centered on their family’s involvement in the civil rights movement in Mississippi, and they were distraught when they received a cool response from the audience and troop leaders, the lawsuit says.

“The only applause they received was from the other two African American girls and one Indian girl in attendance,” the suit says.

About a month later their mother got an email from the troop leaders saying the girls were expelled from the troop, the lawsuit claims. The email said the leaders were concerned because “we haven’t seen the level of enthusiasm from the twins as we have from the rest of the troop” but goes on to say that “if the girls would like to continue (with the Girl Scouts) we can work to find another troop that would better fit their interests and wants,” according to the lawsuit.

“It seemed inconsistent to say on one hand they’re showing a lack of enthusiasm, but on the other hand that there might be another troop that could better accommodate them,” said Johnson’s lawyer, Carlton Rouse.

The statement from the Girl Scouts doesn’t address why the email was sent, but says: “Girls switch troops for a variety of reasons. It is not unusual for a troop leader, a mother or a girl to consider changing troops.”

The organization also says it promptly looked into the situation and that race played no part.

A voice message and email seeking further comment from the Girl Scouts weren’t immediately returned after hours Friday.

Rouse said he’s not alleging racial discrimination against the girls, who are black, but said he believes the girls were expelled as a result of their presentation.

“I believe it was a bad decision, and I believe the decision was brought on by this cultural heritage report because I can’t see anything else that would have prompted it,” Rouse said.

Rouse said the Girl Scouts failed to respond to numerous calls, emails and letters from Johnson and from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and hadn’t taken any corrective steps or reinstated the girls. The only option offered to his client, he said, was to start her own troop.

Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta says the organization is committed to the principle of inclusion and noted that 40 percent of the girls in the troop in question are black or Asian. It wasn’t clear how many girls are in the troop. The Girls Scouts say they offered the girls the opportunity to continue with their existing troop or a different troop or for Johnson to start a new troop.

At the end of discussions between Johnson and the troop leaders, Johnson said she would discuss the matter with her daughters and get back in touch, the organization says.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

4 thoughts on “Girl Scouts, civil rights, and white racial resentment

  1. I find it interesting that you’re reporting is so biased given that there is not a report from the Girl Scout Council nor the leaders – or any of the other parents in the troop. This is a very diverse troop with African-Americans, Asian-Americans, and Caucasians. If the leaders were so biased, why aren’t the other parents jumping up to support this one mother or keeping their girls in the troop? Also, the mother has been given plenty of options for keeping her girls in Girl Scouts, yet she chooses to sue? I think there’s a LOT more to the story than what this one side is letting on.

    I would be curious to hear from the other side of the issue.

    Roxanne, a Native American/German/Russan Girl Scout leader

  2. You do hear from the troupe leaders and mothers (see the third paragraph). Isn’t that the email the complainant received from them suggesting to help find the mother’s daughters a more suitable place? I hope more is heard. Yet in all fairness, this report is about a mother suing the Girl Scouts for what is told us in the first three paragraphs. I honestly do not see what is biased in this. However, I do see the bias in the alleged lack of reception of the presentation and the resultant action in paragraph three. But that is just my African American/Native American perception. Mary.

  3. I am so tired of the racial gripes that continue to always seem to be an issue for African americans. They act like they are the only minority group that has been discriminated against and if they don’t get their way they cause a huge stink. Native Americans were oppressed in this country. African Americans ancestors sold their own people into slavery and the African people still kill and oppress their own kind. Asians were placed in concentration camps during the wars and even treated with resentment during and after Vietnam. I am an Asian American that grew up as a mixed child of two cultures and was always discriminated against in school. I couldn’t get on the cheer leading team because I was different looking. Teachers placed me in the back of the class because I wasn’t truly white. My teachers treated my parents especially my Thai mother which was thought of as inferior to them because she couldn’t speak English very well. Children teased me I couldn’t participate in school functions because it wasn’t appropriate to pick an Asian mixed child over the white children in the talent shows. I would cry at night to my mother and father and they told me, “these are days that you will remember and make me stronger. Never let others ignorance stop you from your dreams. People have their own beliefs and we have rights to feel the way they want about others. There is a higher they will have to answer to later. You can sue them, scream and holler all you want but when you achieve your dreams beyond them that is when you .” That was the best discussions they gave me. I was the leader of my high school dance team that was an undefeated competition team the 4 years I was in charge. I was told I would never be this. I graduated in the top 10 percent of my class. I made finalist trying out for one of the best NFL cheer leading teams. I have a BS in Computers graduating cum laude in a large university and have two masters degrees and my family works closely with high officials in DC. I never worried about my mix culture that runs in my blood but only treated those that weren’t treated kindly because of their outside more kindness generosity.

  4. @Kay- I totally hear ya babe. But in this country even your Thai mixed heritage is considered more acceptable than being black. And the fact that African tribal leaders sold their own was due in large part to trickery and deceit, not malice and greed, FYI. You said you study computers, well leave history to those who can tell it without the chip on their shoulders as you want the world to believe you do not posess. It seems like you would have them accept that pretty much they are not welcomed at the troop that they have supported simply because they didn’t sugar coat history or clean it up as to not offend the white troop leaders in Gwinnett county GA. That’s called accepting defeat or accepting that you have to be apart of the majority to be included. Not in the Girl Scout that I came up in.

    -Black woman living very close to Gwinnett county and therefor knows some of the attitudes that are harbored here. Oh and a former Girl Scout.

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