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Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Resources for Volunteers

Be a leader for all Girl Scouts. 

Girl Scout mentors and volunteers have the opportunity to instill in youth the fundamental values of respect for all, inclusivity, equity, and the belief that “injustice anywhere is a slight to justice everywhere” (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.). Girl Scout volunteers are expected to offer a safe space for Girl Scouts to talk about important issues.

Review these resources to help navigate discussions and expand your own knowledge to create a space where all Girl Scouts feel they belong. 

Tips for Inclusivity

Everyone’s needs are unique, so ensuring inclusivity will look different depending on your Girl Scout, troop, and service unit, but these general tips are a great place to start.

Treat Every Girl Scout with Dignity and Respect

Being inclusive in Girl Scouts means welcoming every member into your troop. Always focus on every individual as a person first regardless of ability, background, race, ethnicity, culture, or anything else. Also focus on their abilities and what they can do, rather than what they cannot.

Plan activities that explore the diversity and culture that exists in your own troop or service unit. Remember to plan flexible activities that consider various energy levels, interests, and skills. Consider the needs, resources, safety, required accommodations, and beliefs of all members and potential members.

Learn More

How can I communicate effectively with youth of all ages?

  • Listen: Listening to youth, as opposed to telling them what to think, feel, or do (no “you shoulds”) is the first step in building a trusting relationship and helping them take ownership of their Girl Scout experience.
  • Be Honest: If you’re not comfortable with a topic or activity, it’s OK to say so! No one expects you to be an expert on every topic. Ask for alternatives or seek out volunteers with the required expertise. Owning up to mistakes—and apologizing for them—goes a long way with girls.
  • Be Open to Real Issues: Outside of Girl Scouts, youth may be dealing with issues like relationships, peer pressure, school, money, drugs, and other serious topics. When you don’t know, listen. Also seek help from council staff if you need assistance or more information than you currently have.
  • Show Respect: Girl Scouts often say that their best experiences were the ones where adults treated them as equal partners. Being spoken to as young adults reinforces that their opinions matter and that they deserve respect.
  • Offer Options: Youths’ needs and interests change and being flexible shows them that you respect them and their busy lives. Be ready with age-appropriate guidance and parameters no matter what the Girl Scouts choose to do.
  • Stay Current: Show your Girl Scouts that you’re interested in their world by asking them about the TV shows and movies they like; the books, magazines, or blogs they read; the social media influencers they follow; and the music they listen to.

Why is cultural competence important and how can I improve my understanding?

 
Welcome Members of All Abilities

Ask about needs and accommodations. Approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population has a disability—so please do not rely on visual cues alone so, be sure to ask. 

If you want to find out what accommodations a member may need to make their Girl Scout experience successful, simply ask them or their parent/caregiver. If you are frank and accessible, it’s likely they will respond in a kind way, creating an open environment.

Offer assistance when appropriate. It is okay to offer assistance, but wait until your offer is accepted before you begin to help. Listen closely to any instructions or preferences the person may have.

Speak directly to the individual. Speak to individuals with disabilities directly, not through a parent, caregiver, or friend. When speaking to an individual by using an interpreter, speak to the individual directly.

Be sure to use people-first language that eliminates generalizations and stereotypes, by focusing on the person rather than the disability.

When greeting an individual with a visual disability, always identify yourself and others. For example, you might say, “Hi, it’s Sheryl. Tara is on my right and Chris is on my left.”

Be considerate of individuals with wheelchairs. When speaking to an individual in a wheelchair for an extended period of time, or for a personal matter, pull up a chair to converse. Keep in mind that leaning on an individual’s wheelchair can be an invasion of space.

Learn More

How can I work toward building a welcoming and inclusive troop?

How can I provide equitable access for my community?

 
Be a Model for Inclusion

All volunteers are setting an example for youth to share their unique gifts and share appropriate aspects of their lives. By modeling inclusiveness, we teach Girl Scouts to problem solve, care for the world around them, and offer the opportunity to learn about diversity in our modern culture. By embracing others and diversity, Girl Scouts learn to embrace diversity in their lives however it may come.

Try encouraging cooperation instead of competition. Activities that don’t only result in winning or losing can engage girls in problem-solving skills and will ensure everyone feels accommodated.

 
Modify Activities and Reward Best Efforts

Give any Girl Scout the opportunity to do their best, and they will! It is important for all participants to be rewarded based on their best efforts, not on the completion of a task. To do this, you may have to change a few rules or approach an activity creatively.

Here are some examples of ways to modify activities:

  • Invite a Girl Scout to participate in an activity they have observed others doing.
  • If you are visiting a museum, find out if a Girl Scout who has limited vision can get permission to touch some of the pieces. Scope out the sound pieces the museum might have.
  • If an activity requires running, a Girl Scout who is unable to run could be asked to walk or do another physical movement.

If you feel a family is not participating in the Cookie Sale because of socio-economic reasons, arrange for the Girl Scout to participate in troop booth activities, troop door-to-door selling, and troop goal setting. For example, the Girl Scout can send invitations to friends and family to visit their booth to purchase cookies for their troop. They can also help make booth decorations or help plan the event.

Encourage and promote fairness among troops. 

Youth are sensitive to injustice. They forgive mistakes if they are sure you are trying to be fair. They look for fairness in how responsibilities are shared, in handling of disagreements, and in your responses to performance and accomplishment.

  • When possible, ask the Girl Scouts what they think is fair before decisions are made.
  • Explain your reasoning and show why you did something.
  • Be willing to apologize if needed.
  • Try to see that responsibilities as well as the chances for feeling important are equally divided.
  • Help Girl Scouts explore and decide for themselves the fair ways of solving problems, carrying out activities, and responding to behavior and accomplishments. 
Learn More

If Girl Scouts is non-partisan, should I teach my Girl Scouts about politics?

How can I lead Girl Scouts to get involved in civic action?

 
Seek Resources and Support

We understand that knowing how to accommodate for different needs and include every girl may feel complicated and overwhelming, especially when it comes to modifying activities. Girl Scouts of Central Texas is here to support you and ensure you have the tools and guidance needed to be inclusive.

 

These resources have been adapted from Girl Scouts Heart of the South, Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia, Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas, and Girl Scouts River Valleys.