A mother in Illinois is suing the Girl Scouts after they disbanded her daughter’s troop. The reason for the disbanding was because her daughter is deaf, and the Girl Scouts didn’t want to provide her with an interpreter anymore. A Leader felt the costs of the interpreter was restricting what the other girls in the troop could do.
Edie Runnion is a mother who lives in Illinois. Her daughter, Megan, has been deaf since birth. She joined the Girl Scouts as a “Daisy” when she was in Kindergarten. Now, years later, Megan is 12 and her Girl Scout troop has been disbanded. The reason for the disbanding appears to be because the troop no longer wanted to pay for Megan’s interpreter.
Megan uses American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. She can speak, but her speech isn’t always easily understood by others. The interpreter is used to give voice to what Megan is trying to say through her sign language, so that she can converse with and be understood by people who don’t understand ASL.
When Megan first joined the Girl Scouts, her mother Edie requested that an interpreter be present. Without an interpreter, Megan cannot understand what is being said, and therefore, cannot be part of the group. In the fall of 2011, the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana told Edie Runnion that the “council does not pay for these services”.
The troop was going on a rock climbing event in November of 2011. Edie requested, in October, that an interpreter be present for Megan. The Girl Scouts didn’t comply with that request until after the National Association for the Deaf sent a letter that requested an interpreter for the event.
In January of 2012, Megan and her mother Edie were attending a troop dinner. One of the Leaders announced that the troop was disbanding immediately. According to court documents, Edie was told by a Leader that the reason why the troop suddenly disbanded was because the cost of interpretive services created limitations that made it impractical for the troop to continue. It was also said that Edie’s continued insistence that there be an interpreter present was, in short, part of the problem.
Edie filed a lawsuit, on Megan’s behalf, against the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. It was filed in the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Part of the complaint says:
“By refusing to provide sign language interpreter services and by disbanding the troop in retaliation for requesting auxiliary aids and services, (the Girl Scouts violated) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973”.
Image by Steve Snodgrass on Flickr