How One Girl Scout Troop Changed King County Law

Multiple Girl Scouts standing in front of a bridge

When Junior Girl Scout Troop 41653 learned that law enforcement uniforms were only available in men’s sizes, they felt compelled to make change. During the next year and half, they researched, met with county officials, and fought to bring attention to this issue. In January 2023, the King County Council passed an ordinance requiring that the county provide uniforms for people of every gender identity and expression for all 16,000 King County employees who wear uniforms.  

Troop Leader Tiffany, Assistant Troop Leader Carinne, and Girl Scouts Richa, Ashley, Ania, Ellie, Janie, Xin, Zoya, Fiona, Ahana, and Aislinn shared with us their incredible journey from recognizing a problem to changing the law—and all the ways they’ve grown along the way. 

Tiffany: In fourth grade, when the girls were earning their detective badge, they learned from two women in the sheriff’s department that uniforms are only available in men’s sizes. This was during the pandemic, so we did a porch pickup fingerprinting kit and interviewed two women with the Sammamish Police Department on Zoom. At the very end—it was almost a throwaway question—the girls asked what annoys them about being women in a largely male field.  

Ellie, Janie, Xin, and Zoya: We asked them what annoys them about their job, and they said they didn’t have uniforms in women’s sizes. We felt that was sexist and not fair at all. The chat started blowing up. “What do you mean?” “That’s not okay.” “That’s discrimination.” Xin even said, “We know people in government!” We had just finished our Democracy badge and met the mayor, so we felt empowered to do something about this. 

Multiple Girl Scouts at the King County Council

Fiona, Ahana, and Aislinn: It annoyed us because they weren’t thinking about everyone, just the men. What about people of other genders, people who are pregnant, or people whose bodies are different? You should feel wanted at your job. You should feel appreciated just as much as everyone else, and it should be inclusive. Not having a uniform for them says, “We don’t want you here.” All jobs should be available to all genders, not just men. 

Tiffany: After the meeting, the girls voted to work on this issue of uniform equity. This became the basis of their Bronze Award.

Girl Scouts sitting around a table eatingCarinne: From the very beginning, since they were Daisies, this has been a truly girl-led troop. As adults, we’re here to support them, but the girls make the decisions. Tiffany helped them think about how to do that and what next steps to take, but the girls had that intrinsic motivation because they’re in charge of their experience. 

Ellie, Janie, Xin, and Zoya: A lot of times, kids aren’t taken seriously. Wearing the vest and being a Girl Scout comes with a lot of respect. When we started this project, we felt like no one was going to listen to us. We’re just kids. But they trusted us more because we’re Girl Scouts.  

Tiffany: It’s about helping them gradually come to their answers in a meaningful way. We used a series of open-ended questions to think through, what would be the next step? Once you’ve identified that, what do you want to say, and how do you want to say it? What’s the right time to do it?  

Richa, Ashley, and Ania: It was challenging figuring out exactly what to do. We had our problem, and we knew our end goal; we just weren’t sure how to get there. We knew we’d get there eventually, even if they didn’t pass the law. We worked really hard, and we didn’t want to stop. They would email us back with little steps, and that was always a boost of motivation to keep going. 

Multiple Girl Scouts in their uniforms posing with adult Tiffany: Over the course of a year and a half, the girls did research and ultimately met with Councilmember Sarah Perry and Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall (who’s also a Girl Scout alum!). In their meeting with Perry, they shared their concern, and Perry was shocked to hear that uniforms only come in men’s sizes. In their meeting with Sheriff Patti, they learned about the challenges of budgeting and procurement. When they shared that Perry supported the girls’ concerns, Sheriff Patti was open to finding a solution. 

Richa, Ashley, and Ania: It was pretty special to meet the council members and the sheriff—some of them had even been Girl Scouts, like us. We also met some of the people we’d be affecting, some women in law enforcement. It felt pretty cool knowing adults respected us and what we were doing. In the beginning, it was nerve-wracking talking to them, but we realized they’re normal people. It made them feel less scary. 

Tiffany: Ultimately, Perry’s office spent the summer and fall of 2022 meeting with agencies throughout the county to learn more about uniforms. In December, they submitted ordinance 2022-0429, which would require equity in uniform sizing—across all departments, not just in the sheriff’s department. The girls attended the January 2023 King County Council meeting to share their testimony in favor of the ordinance.   

Carinne: The girls wrote their own statements and presented them in groups atthe council meeting, earning their Public Speaking badge in the process. Several council members mentioned that they were really impressed and moved by their thoughtfulness and focus on inclusion.  

Tiffany: The council unanimously voted in favor of the ordinance, creating the framework for anyone who wears a uniform in their work for the county to obtain the size that’s right for them, regardless of gender. In essence, the girls got a law written to address concerns they raised as fourth graders in a Zoom meeting.  

Carinne: Their Girl Scout experiences have made them really amazing independent thinkers because they have so much freedom and ability to learn how to communicate with each other, decide on a project, and then actually execute it and decide who does what. Those skills were really relevant throughout this process because they all had to take pieces and parts and support each other. And they stayed committed to this project all the way from fourth grade to sixth grade. 

Multiple Girl Scouts in uniform standing on stage

Tiffany: I think it’s amazing that our girls were able to identify a problem and then take action, to see something come to change, to put a fire under our governmental officials that are here to support our community and address the concerns that come up. They continuously checked in, and it was a long process. But to finally see it come through? They were so excited. They started chanting at the end, “We change the world!”  

They’ve really learned over the last couple of years how government works, how important your voice can be, and to not to give up. Things take time, and you can always come back to them. These are great life lessons they’ve got as they move on into other parts of school and into their careers. I think they’re going to carry it with them forever. Absolutely.  

Carinne: I also learned a whole lot more about how local government works through this. I think that’s been helpful for the girls to hear: That they’re not the only ones learning things along the way. Learning is a lifelong journey.  

Fiona, Ahana, and Aislinn: As a kid, you don’t see much that’s happening in the outside world. But as we grow up, we’ve noticed that lots of people get judged on what they wear, how they look, their race, and their body type. It’s sad to still see people treated as people who aren’t normal human beings just because of what they like, who they like, their skin color, having a disability, or having a disease. People should be treated equally. At the end of the day, we’re all human. 

Ellie, Janie, Xin, and Zoya: Even the smallest person can make a big difference. Whoever you are, even if it’s just you, even if you’re just a little girl, you can change the world. You’ve just got to be confident. Show you know your stuff. Be creative. Come up with ways to explain things and make sense to different people, like kids, adults, or people who think differently.  

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