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
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.
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
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.
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
- If an activity requires running, a Girl Scout
who is unable to run could be asked to walk or do another physical
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
- Try to see that responsibilities as well as the
chances for feeling important are equally divided.
Girl Scouts explore and decide for themselves the fair ways of
solving problems, carrying out activities, and responding to
behavior and accomplishments.
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.