Washington state Girl Scouts return donation over anti-transgender demand

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A Washington state Girl Scouts organization said on Wednesday it has returned a $100,000 gift after the donor told them the money could not be used to the benefit of any transgender participants in the scouts program.

The Girl Scouts of Western Washington said it received the donation, amounting to nearly a third of its 2015 financial-assistance fund, on March 30.

But as news reached the donor that the Girl Scouts welcome all girls, including transgender girls, the donor asked that the donation be returned unless the organization could guarantee the money would not help transgender girls, the group said. It did not identify the donor.

"Making the world a better place has been Girl Scouts' goal since its founding in 1912, and diversity and inclusion are inherent parts of what our organization is all about," the Girl Scouts of Western Washington said in a statement.

Gender identity has been a topic of national dialogue since former Olympic champion and reality television star Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, came out as transgender in April.

"Girl Scouts empowers EVERY girl - regardless of her race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity or geographic location - to achieve her dreams," the Scouts said.

The Girl Scouts of Western Washington, which includes more than 25,000 girls across 17 counties, launched an online fundraising campaign to replace the funds it says would have helped some 500 girls join a local troop or go to camp, among other experiences.

It raised $260,110 from 5,307 people in two days, a fundraising website showed.

The Girl Scouts declined to provide a copy of the letter asking that the gift be returned.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Will Dunham)