​Girl Scout Troop Rejects Little Girl Because She's Deaf

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Vanessa LoSauro, a 9-year-old in St. Augustine, Florida, has always dreamed of joining the Girl Scouts. Just one problem: she's deaf, so the Girl Scout troop leader rejected the girl's application. Vanessa's mom, Sloan, even offered to be a sign language interpreter for the troop but was told to start a deaf troop instead.

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Doesn't seem very, er, Girl Scoutly to discriminate against the deaf -- particularly since the founder of the Girl Scouts was deaf herself!

To be sure, I feel sorry for poor Vanessa and am outraged at the Girl Scouts for discriminating against kids with disabilities. But there's another problem with this story that parents might miss, and it's this: groups that seamlessly integrate kids who are deaf, blind, or have other disabilities aren't only good for the disabled kids. They're also good for the OTHER kids in the group, too!

More from The Stir: Why My Daughters Won't Ever Be Girl Scouts

When I was in fourth grade, I sat next to a girl with developmental disabilities and became her friend. Spending time with her not only opened my eyes to what life with a disability is like, it also deepened my sense of empathy for anyone whose life is different from my own.

And I've heard similar stories from other parents whose kids have had daily contact with the disabled. In one school class with a deaf child, the kids started learning sign language to show their support -- a win-win scenario for all involved!

I'm not saying disabled kids should be included as tokens to teach others -- just that groups who can't be bothered to make accommodations for disabled kids are missing out big time. I grew up a Girl Scout myself but now wonder whether I want my daughter to join a group that's so short-sighted.

How do you feel about the Girl Scouts barring girls with disabilities?

 

Image via Constantine Pankin/shutterstock

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