Less Camping, More Trans Pride Parades: Meet the ‘Radical’ Girl Scouts Alternative Called ‘Monarchs’

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By Emily Zanotti | 5:01 pm, January 9, 2017

If you tire of delicious cookies and moderate, yet capable instruction in things like horseback riding, camping, entrepreneurship and first-aid, the Girl Scouts now have a “radical” alternative—a social justice-focused, feminist organization for young girls called the “Radical Monarchs.

The Guardian describes the Radical Monarchs as a “youth group for girls of color,” and “radical Brownies.” But the small group of 12 girls and two adult guides (based, of course, just outside of San Francisco), says they’re more about empowerment and activism than badges and Thin Mints.

The girls wear berets and still do activities, but those might include marching in the San Francisco Trans Pride Parade or meeting with progressive activists. “We met some of the members of the Black Panthers,” troop member Lupita Martinez told Buzzfeed in December, “and that was really cool because they gave us our badges and we got to shake their hands.”

The two adult leaders are, unsurprisingly, a college professor and a community organizer, who met in a graduate program in Ethnic Studies as San Francisco State University. When they had daughters, they found Girl Scouts far too mainstream, and wanted to create a group that would welcome in girls of color as well as students they felt were being marginalized and oppressed by middle school.

They explain their curriculum as teaching “wise-hearted hopefulness,” and say they are filling a void: teaching girls social justice values before they enter puberty, because their own enlightenment was delayed until well into their college years.

“My consciousness started to form towards high school and in college around all of that. Really college was my turning point,” one founder said. “I wasn’t able to understand what I was experiencing, being the only person of color in a science classroom or math classroom… I didn’t understand what was happening in a societal way. I just knew that it sucked.”

For now, there’s only one troupe, but leadership says they intend to grow their movement by one additional troupe every year. Joining Radical Monarchs, however, isn’t free. Entry is anywhere from $75 to $200 based on need.

The Girl Scouts have often been caught in the middle over their political leanings. Even as the Radical Monarchs approach the group from the left, far-right activists have also criticized the Girl Scouts’ use of sex education materials, and their heavy reliance on left-leaning sites like Media Matters as resources for girls looking for information on political issues.