Girl Scouts teach tolerance, accept transgender children
Reporter: Jessica Chapin
TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - The story of a 7-year-old Denver boy who wanted to join the Girl Scouts is resonating nation-wide, and sparking a lot of reaction from KGUN9 viewers.
It was the topic of the day on Wednesday's Good Morning Tucson, and received more than one hundred comments on the station's facebook page.
When 7-year-old Bobby Montoya asked to join the troop, the leader originally said no. Then, Girl Scouts of Colorado released a statement, saying, "Our requests for support of transgender kids have grown, and Girl Scouts of Colorado is working to best support these children..."
In Tucson, Wingspan program coordinator Kristi Smith says they have programs available for transgender youth to help cope with issues like bullying.
"Questioning of one's gender identity or sexual orientation has started happening much earlier in life," said Smith, "and I feel like a lot of that has to do with creating spaces where that sort of talk or that language can be explored."
Smith says Tucson Girl Scout troops are just as inclusive. Organizations like Wingspan and the Southern Arizona's LGBT Alliance is helping coordinate an anti-bullying picnic with girl scouts November 5.
"They are completely inclusive and supportive of any identity so that's really cool," said Smith.
But, some say children like Bobby Montoya are too young to know who they are. 9 On Your Side's Jessica Chapin went to child psychiatrist Sandy Stein to find out more.
"Gender identity is a key developmental part of early childhood and the majority of youth have a core gender identity by the age of two and a half or three," she said. But, there is no way for anyone else to make any final determination about someone being transgender.
"There's no gene, there's no study, there's no test," she said.
Montoya's mother says her son started requesting to play with dolls and wear girls' clothing when he was about two years old.
"It's very common to see a lot of back and forth in stereotypical play especially in those early pre-school years," said Stein.
Stein also says parents' roles in gender identity are also important, no matter which identity a child relates with.
"I think the first thing is a parent always needs to communicate with their child and the parent always needs to support their child," said Stein.
Wingspan also has resources for parents of transgender children, including their support group, Trans-Parent.
Wingspan will also be hosting events November 14-20 to celebrate Transgender Awareness Week.