Being Inclusive of All Religions in Girl Scout Troop
May 29, 2014 6:15 AM Subscribe
How to deal with a member of my daughter's girl scout troop whose religious beliefs make it difficult to engage in regular group activities?
posted by Creamroller to Religion & Philosophy (48 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My wife co-leads a large girl scout troop (approx 18 girls), ages 6-7. We live in a fairly ethnically diverse part of the country and enjoy the variety of experiences that the different girls and families bring to the troop. This year, my wife and two other organizers (most parents don't participate in organizing the activities, but often drop in and attend, which is fine with us) planned and end-of-the-school-year pool/pizza party for the troop. This type of party was enthusiastically suggested by a majority of the girl scouts in the troop as their preferred type of party. We put a deposit down at a popular outdoor swimming pool and made catering arrangements.
A week or so after sending out an announcement to all the parents about the upcoming end-of-year bash, my wife and two other leaders received an e-mail from another parent in the troop, complaining that her Muslim daughter would not be able to participate because she is not permitted to wear bathing attire in front of strangers. The mother did not suggest an alternative activity, but clearly desired that the scout leaders schedule another event in its place. As a non-refundable deposit has already been made, this would be very difficult, somewhat costly, but not impossible.
There have differences of opinion between the three organizing leaders on how to deal with this request. On one hand, the girl could still attend the party, but would not be able to swim. But speaking as a former 6-year-old, I know that would be a buzz-kill for her. On the other hand, if we reschedule the entire event to accommodate her family's religious beliefs, it seems like we'll be setting an unwanted precedent. Part of me thinks that if these parents choose to raise their children under these restrictions in American society, part of their parenting challenge involves explaining to their kids why they can't take part in some popular American activities.
We've suggested to the mother of the girl that she propose an alternative party (time is running short and it would be hard to reserve a park or any other location in such short notice), but she has not responded. At the request of a Muslim colleague of mine at work, we proposed that the girl wear full-body bathing attire, as many Muslim women do (and we checked that the pool was ok with this, which they were), but apparently this was not acceptable.
If I were dealing solely with an adult, I'd probably just say, "hey, I respect your beliefs, but it looks like you won't be able to come to the party. Too bad." But I hate to think of a little kid sitting out her troop's big bash, wondering why she's not allowed to join in.
What would you do?