By Corinne Murdock |
It’s not just teachers influencing children on issues like sexuality and gender identity. Kristin Downing, a Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona troop leader in Tucson for over eight years, advocates heavily for gender identity rights for children. Downing has repeatedly helped fundraise and advocate for LGBTQ+ activist organizations with dedicated efforts to influence children such as the Trevor Project, Southern Arizona Gender Alliance (SAGA), and the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Prior to volunteering with the Girl Scouts, Downing served five years as a children’s ministry leader with the Church of the Apostles.
On Wednesday, Downing addressed the House Government and Elections Committee that they passed, HB2294, which would require state documents to list an individual’s sex as either male or female. Downing explained that her 15-year-old daughter announced that she was non-binary at 12 years old, and was celebrated and praised by their entire community, including coaches, medical care providers, friends, family, and Downing’s fellow Girl Scout troop leaders.
Downing asserted that her daughter feels unsupported when state paperwork requires her to list her biological gender. She claimed that the same wouldn’t be true of “more welcoming states” like California — a state that recently allowed a 26-year-old male convicted of molesting a 10-year-old girl to serve out his prison sentence in a girl’s juvenile detention facility because he claimed he was a transgender female. Downing said her daughter’s excitement over the prospect of getting her driver’s license was dampened by the fact that she would be required to list her biological gender, and not be able to identify legally as “nonbinary.”
Downing suggested allowing nonbinary adults and children to mark an “X” instead of acknowledging their gender as either male or female.
“It’s very difficult every time we have to start a new semester, or go to a new activity, we have to have a whole conversation ahead of time about my child’s pronouns,” said Downing.
On social media, Downing has expressed that those against transgenderism in any way are inciting harm. In a Facebook post, Downing characterized opposition to transgenderism as “violence.” She insisted that “kids should be allowed to be kids” by allowing them to use the bathroom or join the sports team of their choice, regardless of their biological sex.
“They shouldn’t have their existence debated. Nobody should. I’m so exhausted from this discussion that is happening on a national stage — the kids are watching, they hear it all, and you are harming them,” wrote Downing. “Trans and non-binary kids deserve the same rights and the same ability to be their damn selves as everyone else. So I guess that’s today’s post about the trans week of visibility. A bit of a rant, because this is all f*****g b******t and I’m so tired of trying to tiptoe around it and make room for people’s discomfort and feelings — let’s call it what it is — it’s bigotry and transphobia. It’s an act of violence against the trans community and our children. There shouldn’t be allowances made for that.”
Girl Scouts allows transgender girls to join troops on a case-by-case basis, so long as the boy “is recognized by the family and school/community as a girl.” They also sell rainbow LGBTQ pride “fun” patches to encourage girls to show their inclusivity and support for the LGBTQ community.
In 2019, Girl Scouts recognized a member as one of their National Gold Award Girl Scouts for that year, their highest award, because she started a now-defunct online magazine for children within the LGBTQ community. The publication, Gliterary Magazine, mainly showcased fanfiction-style works about children discussing their LGBTQ experiences.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.