Girl Scouts and reproductive rights: it’s no laughing matter
Note: Ann Saladin is the mother of a former 4th generation Girl Scout, and the creator of mygirlscoutcouncil.com, a website documenting pro-life concerns about the Girl Scouts, council by council.
Oct. 7, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Have you heard the one about the Girl Scouts and reproductive rights?
If you’re waiting for the punch line…there isn’t one. Because this isn’t a joke, but the sad reality of an iconic institution that has experienced a 20% membership decline over the past decade as an increasing number of families exit the program upon discovering Girl Scouts’ multi-faceted ties to the reproductive rights agenda.
Oh sure, the national level of the organization, GSUSA, has FAQs ready should questions arise. FAQs that, taken at face value, seem almost plausible. Almost.
But the carefully crafted FAQs are a problem onto themselves -- narrowly addressing some concerns, excluding relevant information on others, even contradicting information presented elsewhere within the organization.
Take for instance their FAQ that states “Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) does not take a position on or develop materials on these issues [human sexuality, contraception, abortion].” There may be some truth to this in that there is no official GSUSA position on these topics beyond this sentence. (Which is another article for another day. No position. On abortion. In an organization pledging to build girls of character. Really?) However, this statement does not address the preponderance of women, organizations, and resources GSUSA presents to girls that publicly support sexual and reproductive rights.
A starting point to look for examples of this type of advocacy is within the Girl Scouts Journey curriculum series, which each girl must work out of to ascend levels and earn the most prestigious awards. The curriculum is replete with women and organizations that take public positions supporting sexual and reproductive rights, even after GSUSA’s 2012 curriculum overview and revisions.
One of many examples of this concerning content can be found in Mission Sisterhood, which thanks “women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem” for her “visionary contributions.” Ms. Steinem has certainly made significant contributions as a women’s rights activist. Contributions not too many pro-lifers are thankful for.
Another book, Your Voice Your World, encourages girls to “check out some of the careers that can have advocacy as a key element: [like a] lawyer, such as for the American Civil Liberties Union.” Yep, the ACLU advocates alright – for expanding abortion rights and enforcing the HHS mandate.
Multiple books in the Journey series remind girls that they are members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, WAGGGS (more on why that’s a problem in a minute), and lists the WAGGGS website as a resource for projects created by other Girl Guides and Scouts around the world. Resources like the HIV document titled “Sex Is Love! Do It Safely! Don’t Be Silly, Wrap Your Willy!,” which shares how girls can (unprotected sex) and cannot (mutual masturbation) contract HIV. Several thoughts come to mind when considering this resource, but “no position on contraception and human sexuality” isn’t one of them.
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Then there’s GSUSA’s website and social media accounts, the primary mode of communication for a generation of girls growing up in an online world. Recently, GSUSA (and many local councils) blogged, posted, and tweeted a link to the MAKERS: Women Who Make America documentary, encouraging girls to view the profile of GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez and “other esteemed women.” Women like Amy Richards, who proudly shares her decision to selectively reduce 2 of her 3 triplets through abortion, and many, many other MAKERS women who share their pro-abortion, pro-contraception perspectives among other concerning topics. And if linking to concerning content isn’t enough for some readers, consider this: GSUSA tweeted a live Girl Scout hosted screening of the MAKERS documentary, followed by a panel discussion featuring Amy Richards, where she was identified as the founder of the abortion funding feminist group Third Wave. Nope, no position on abortion here. Scouts honor.
GSUSA’s statement is not only unsatisfactory regarding this concern on the national level, but also completely ignores the many ways local councils promote additional role models, organizations, activities, and materials that support reproductive rights. From coast to coast, the examples are numerous and varying, but include: honoring Texas state Senator Wendy Davis, a long-time abortion rights supporter; a “Women of History” patch for girls ages 5 and up which includes Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger in a list of significant women to research; encouraging girls to participate in and fundraise for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure; linking girls to Melinda Gates’ promotion of all forms of contraception. Keep in mind that every council sells the problematic “Journeys” book series. Every council shares WAGGGS curriculum with the girls. Every council funds and promotes WAGGGS related activities. Apparently, GSUSA hasn’t shared their FAQs with their local councils.
Another FAQ states that “Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood.” That’s an accurate but misleadingly incomplete statement. What GSUSA is leaving out is that they permit local Girl Scout councils to work with Planned Parenthood, an option that that is currently in use among multiple councils in a variety of ways. Also missing from that statement is WAGGGS’ long-standing working relationship with the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). WAGGGS and IPPF are constant and current companions on the global stage, as both organizations try to reach girls around the world with their message of expanding sexual and reproductive rights. And WAGGGS does all of this in the name of its 10 million members – a number that includes every registered Girl Guide and Girl Scout worldwide.
Which brings us to WAGGGS. GSUSA’s FAQs on this topic are so purposefully lacking in transparency that one wonders if the Girl Scouts promise to be “honest” is the next word to be asterisked.
GSUSA’s statement that “Girl Scouts of the USA is one of the 145 member organizations” that makes up WAGGGS is true, but intentionally minimizing. What GSUSA doesn’t mention is that GSUSA is by far the largest member organization, making up 1/3 of WAGGGS’ total membership.
GSUSA also clarifies that “membership dues from girls and from adults is not used to pay the WAGGGS quota.” Maybe that’s true, but it’s not really the point. The concern about the GSUSA payment to WAGGGS is not what account they pull the money from. The issue is that the payment is based upon the number of registered Girl Scouts (more Girl Scouts = more money to WAGGGS), and that the payment is significant. ($1.5 million dollars. Annually.)
GSUSA’s final FAQ states unequivocally that “(I)ndividual girls are not members of WAGGGS,” a statement that contradicts current Girl Scout materials at every level of the organization. Pick up a GSUSA curriculum book which reminds girls that “as a Girl Scout, you’re part of a global community – the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). This umbrella organization for our worldwide sisterhood, with 10 million members, advocates globally on issues of importance to girls and young women”. Go online and visit WAGGGS’ website which states that “[A]nyone who is a Girl Guide or Girl Scout is automatically a member” of WAGGGS, their blog where the WAGGGS World Chair states that WAGGGS delegates represent “each one of our WAGGGS members: YOU,” or their Facebook page that says “WAGGGS represents 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in 145 countries across the globe.” Consider that local Girl Scout councils across the country continue to remind girls that they are members of WAGGGS, promote WAGGGS curriculum to the girls, and encourage girls to become WAGGGS delegates and participate in WAGGGS events.
And why are there so many questions and concerns about WAGGGS? Because WAGGGS, in the name of its 10 million members, and with the financial assistance each of those memberships triggers, routinely and aggressively advocates for increased access to sexual and reproductive rights for adolescents globally. One recent example is WAGGGS’ planning, facilitation, and participation in the Global Youth Forum. The Forum’s outcome statement, which specifically calls for unrestricted access to abortion (along with other concerning demands) is available on WAGGGS’ website for girls to “read, share, and disseminate.” Maybe GSUSA forgot to share their FAQs with WAGGGS, too.
But, wait, say those of you who bleed green, GSUSA states that “GSUSA does not always take the same positions or endorse the same programs as WAGGGS.” Yet GSUSA has not publicly repudiated WAGGGS’ involvement in the Global Youth Forum (or any other specific WAGGGS concern), and WAGGGS promoted itself as it always does, as an organization made up of 10 million girls – a number that includes every registered GSUSA member. If GSUSA wants to disassociate itself from WAGGGS in any specific and meaningful way, pro-lifers are all ears.
GSUSA’s FAQs illustrate a disparity between what the Girl Scouts organization says and what the Girl Scouts organization does that’s so wide it’s almost laughable. Except promoting an ideology that embraces sexual and reproductive choice to girls isn’t funny. And families aren’t laughing. They’re leaving.