By Cynthia H. Breunig, President and CEO
Before last week’s shameful display of racism at the Temecula Valley High School football game fades into “old news,” Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio is compelled to let our communities know where we stand. We have a Girl Scout on the Valley View High School cheer team. Our Council has been in contact with both the cheer team coach and our Girl Scout. They are all heartbroken and shaken from the experience. They understandably feel violated. Sadly, this is not the first time that these girls have experienced racism. Our Girl Scouts are encouraged to speak up to injustice and advocate for positive change. In that spirit, the San Gorgonio Council condemns in the strongest terms the abhorrent and insensitive racist actions that occurred at Temecula Valley High School. We stand with the Valley View Cheer Team and affirm the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.
None of us engaged in the work of nurturing and caring for children and young people can stay silent in the face of racism. We must protect our children. Thousands of our friends and neighbors throughout the Inland Empire support our Girl Scouts during their annual Girl Scout cookie sale. These courageous and confident girls adopt a positive attitude, even though ten people say “no” for every person that buys a box of Girl Scout cookies. They learn to handle disappointment and celebrate success. But when they encounter verbal abuse and racism, as too many do during the sale, our adult volunteers are there to lift them up and offer the support they need to keep moving forward. But what happens with the children that face racism alone and afraid? It’s time for all of us to stand up for the most vulnerable among us—our children and young people.
Pockets of racism exist throughout the Inland Empire, despite denials from a vocal few that turn a blind eye to the truth. The Valley View girls are being surrounded by love and support. They will heal, but scars will remain. We know this because girls and young people have been our focus for over a century. We call on like-minded citizens and organizations to band together with Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio to protect our children from racism, just as we protect them from other forms of abuse.
*Guest op-eds do not necessarily reflect the views of IECN.