This blog is written by The Authentic Leadership Community (“ALC”). ALC is centered around the idea of Leadership from the Inside Out. “We are committed to helping you discover, unlock and develop your leadership superpowers so that you can guide and empower your girls as they grow into leaders themselves.”
The experience your girls have in Girl Scouts is directly linked to who you are as a leader. One of the challenges you might face right now (among a million other things) is how to help your girls understand and process the current political and social climate.
This election cycle was a real-life civics lesson for many Americans. And the events that happened at our nation’s capital on Jan. 6 are a reminder of the fragility of democracy.
It would be easy to shy away from the topic altogether, given all the polarization, but civic engagement is deeply embedded in Girl Scouts history and the Promise and Law. GSUSA Interim CEO, Judith Batty, reminds us of the importance, especially right now, to “encourage all girls to be informed citizens so they can become the change-makers of the future.” And to show them how they can “make a difference in their communities and country.”
Where do you even start with this?
Start with the heart. The word heart comes from the Latin word “cor” meaning core. The core essence of our democratic ideals - equality, freedom, and civic engagement - are outlined in the Declaration of Independence and the preamble to the constitution. American writer and activist Terry Tempest Williams called the human heart the “first home of democracy.” And French political philosopher and historian Alexis de Tocqueville once said, the strength of democracy depends on how well we cultivate “habits of the heart.” These habits are values that are embedded in the Girl Scout Law and mission.
Habits of the Heart, what are they?
- Understanding that we are all in this together
- Appreciation of the value of “otherness”: this is the core of diversity and inclusion. What makes us different also makes us special. Appreciating the value differences bring to the table.
- Ability to hold tension in life-giving ways: communicate, collaborate, and compromise with one another even when we fundamentally disagree. How can we respect and seek to understand our different perspectives so that we might find solutions?
- Sense of personal voice and agency: your voice matters.
- Capacity to create community.
Ok, this is great, but what to do with this information? As a leader, how does one provide guidance on topics and current events that may be far outside of the comfort zone or considered controversial?
- Put your oxygen mask first. Take a deep breath and a full stop moment. Check-in with your feelings (yes, those things that we don’t always want to pay attention to!). What emotions, fears, or uncertainties does this bring up for you? What opinions or biases do you have?
- Ask for support. Where do you need extra help, and what kind of support do you need? Whether that support is in terms of resources and tools to support a specific subject matter or develop your lead from the heart skillset, we are here to help and support you.
- You’re more ready than you think! Once you have the confidence to dive into these topics and healthily support your Girl Scouts, guide them towards earning their democracy badges. Encourage them to develop their knowledge, views, and vision to direct their own paths and answers ultimately. Help them talk about the changes they’d like to see in the schools, community, state, and world and how they can be part of that change now and in the future.
Earn a badge
Girl Scouts use their determination every day for a clean environment, racial and gender equality, safety issues, local legislation, and so much more. With the newly released Democracy badges, Girl Scouts of all ages can prepare to lead positive change in their school, town, state, and country! Badge booklets for each GS level are available and help girls learn about how the government works, the three branches, the basics of our democracy, voting, and more.
Badge booklets are available in digital format for free with purchase of the badge at the Council Shop through Feb. 26.
Get Your Girl Scout Democracy Digital Requirements in 3 Easy Steps:
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Let us know which age level(s) Democracy Badge Requirements you need. You may request all six.
- Your reply will include your PDF(s).
Did you know?
- Nearly 6 in 10 girls say they’re interested in being a future leader through advocacy, public service, or a career as an elected official.
- 82% want to make a positive impact on society through their future work.
- Girls who want to lead in advocacy say they care most about the environment and human rights issues/causes (e.g., girls and women’s issues, LGBTQ+ and racial equity, disability rights, poverty).
We hope this entry encouraged you to get started! Let us know what you think by contacting the ALC team. Let us know what you think by contacting the ALC team.