Saturday, April 14, 2012

AN INTRODUCTION

In 2009, I read an infuriating article by a conservative pundit that commented on the supposed dangerous socialist leanings of Girl Scouting.  
The article referenced a 1997 work entitled, On My Honor: Lesbians Reflect on Their Scouting Experiences.  I promptly purchased a copy from eBay that same day.  I devoured the collection of anecdotes, and as a longtime Girl Scout and seasoned Girl Scout summer camp staff member, I found the entire collection extremely salient.  Indeed, there's even an essay that begins, "All I Really Need to Know About Being a Lesbian I Learned at Girl Scout Camp."

I have spoken about On My Honor to many of my Girl Scout connections, lent the book to several friends, and have since developed a strong interest in developing a 21st century edition.  I specifically am interested in incorporating members of the trans* community and their Girl Scout experiences into this 21st century iteration, in addition to including the experiences of individuals who identify as "allies" and not just queer.



I emailed Nancy Manahan, editor of the 1997 work On My Honor, and received her endorsements to go ahead with this project.  I've never attempted anything like this and have certainly never blogged before, so I thank you in advance for your help and understanding in this process.  Rather than having this project culminate in a hard copy book, I'm ultimately envisioning this as an online project and archive that can continuously be added to.



I'll be relying upon a method of collecting and analyzing qualitative data that is known as ‘‘grounded theory," which essentially means that this project will be rooted in on-going discovery.  Rather than beginning with a theory and then "proving it," I'm simply asking questions within an area of study and allowing the generation of theory from the data that is gathered.  Primarily, this project is about collecting stories and cultivating community.

...On a side note, for me, it's an especially important time to be examining this topic since Girl Scouts USA just celebrated its 100th Anniversary in March 2012

 

SO, HOW'S THIS GONNA WORK?

I'm hoping to conduct semi-structured interviews (via phone, email, Skype, or in-person communication) that will be guided somewhat by a broad question set.  I won't be sticking to a rigid interview schedule, though, as I really want individual participants' experiences and responses to shape their own anecdotes.  I also will gladly accept submissions and stories through the blogosphere.  Participants will also be asked to "e-sign" a consent form (maybe this is a give-away that I was a Psychology major...).

To start, I'll be asking participants to consider the following questions:

  How do you self-identify in terms of sexual orientation?  Gender expression?

•  What was/is your involvement and role in Girl Scouting/Girl Guiding?  How long have you been a member? In what capacities?


Some additional questions I'd like to explore:

  Describe your first and/or pivotal romantic or intimate experiences, your crushes, your moments of longing or confusion, etc.  Anecdotes!  I want them!  Tell me a story.

•  Describe any transformations that occurred in a Girl Scout/Girl Guide context, whether in a camp environment, in a troop or group setting, on a destinations trip or international jamboree, etc.

•  Any musings on how Girl Scouting/Girl Guiding has impacted your personal identity as a member of the LGBTQA community, the importance of Girl Scouting/Girl Guiding for LGBTQA youth, and other broader commentaries of this sort.

 

Do you want to be interviewed?  Ready to send me your story? 

Email me at scOUTofthecloset@gmail.com and let's get cookin'.

For the sake of cogency, consistency, and flow, I will be editing interviews and submissions.  Of course, I will do my best to maintain each author's distinct voice.

I will respect any and all requests for anonymity in this project, whether you'd like to remain completely anonymous, would prefer to be known by your "camp name," want only to be identified by your location, or are comfortable sharing your full name.

Please pass the word on to friends, coworkers, and other Girl Scout people who might be interested in sharing their stories.  Let's create a movement.


"Peace out, Girl Scout," as they say.
Stefanie




[Disclaimer: This research is an entirely personally-motivated, independent project and is not connected in any way with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, Girl Scouts USA, or any other national Member Organizational within WAGGGS.]

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