The Response by Girl Scouts USA and Why it is Inadequate

A. The following statement was sent via email after Girl Scouts USA was asked about its relationship with Planned Parenthood.  It was sent by Elaine Huckleberry at Girl Scouts USA and titled “Waco Sensitive Issue Statement.”

We appreciate your interest and concern.  GSUSA does not provide support to Planned Parenthood, nor do we have any national collaboration or relationship with that organization.  We believe such issues related to sexuality are best left to families to discuss with their daughters.
In some areas of the country, Girl Scout troops or groups may offer information to girls on human sexuality and reproductive health.  In all instances, these topics are discussed from an informative rather that advocacy point of view.  As part of an organization whose mission is to help girls grow strong, some local Girl Scout Councils may make girls and their families aware of the information and resources that are available to them on such matters.
The Girl Scout organization, including local Councils, does not take a position on abortion or birth control, nor do we endorse or provide funding to organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

1. How can GSUSA claim that they believe that “such issues related to sexuality are best left to families to discuss” and then allow councils to partner with Planned Parenthood to discuss theses exact issues with young girls?
2.  Isn’t the awarding of a “Woman of Distinction Award” to the executive director of Planned Parenthood of central Texas an “endorsement” of Planned Parenthood?
3.  Wouldn’t a reasonable person believe that bringing in the largest abortion provider in the United States to teach sex-ed seminars would be a violation of the statement above that says “these topics are discussed from an informative rather that advocacy point of view”?
4.  How can partnering with an abortion organization that promotes pre-marital sex, homosexuality, contraception, and abortion help young, Catholic girls “grow strong”?

B. On July 12th, 2004, two mothers of Brownie Scouts met with Sheila Ryan, the CEO of the Audubon Council here in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Ms. Ryan stated that they were not the first parents to express concerns about Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts, but she was unable to tell them anything the Audubon Council had done to relay this concern to GSUSA.  She also stated that every council is "autonomous" and files a separate tax return.  The word "autonomous" is legally correct and is used to protect GSUSA from law suits, etc.  However, it is also misleading.  While each council is a single, legal entity, every council uses materials from GSUSA including books and uniforms and well as leadership training manuals and programs.  Also, every Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadet and Senior Girl Scout is required to pay national dues that go directly to GSUSA.  Some of this money is returned to the council in the form of grants, but the remainder of the national dues helps to pay the salaries of the administration at Girl Scouts USA such as Ms. Kathy Cloninger, and also contributes funds to the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides (WAGGGS). 

C. The Girl Scouts have also offered as a defense of their sex-ed seminars and conferences the fact the each girl who attends must have a signed permission slip before she is allowed to attend, so, according to the Girl Scouts, the parents are aware before their daughters are exposed to the material.  The permission slip protects the Girl Scouts with out protecting the Girl Scout.

a)  The Girl Scout permission slip is designed to protect the Girl Scouts from legal problems; it is not designed to inform parents about what the event will cover.  Click here to view the permission slip.

) Many moms remember their own Girl Scouting days when they were taught about the development of the female body and about girls becoming women.  However, unknown to many of these former Girl Scouts, these seminars have changed dramatically from discussions of menstruation to detailed discussions of sexual activity, contraception, and sexual orientation.  If a mom who is unaware of these changes was asked to sign a permission slip that stated that the troop was planning to work on a badge entitled “becoming a teen,” she could easily assume the talk would be the wholesome type that she experienced and give permission for her daughter to attend an event that could have a dramatic and negative influence on her child for years to come.  The highly objectionable sex-ed seminar that was taught in Waco, Texas by Planned Parenthood with Girl Scout assistance went on for seven years before parents learned what was truly being taught and forced the Girl Scouts – Bluebonnet Council to stop partnering with Planned Parenthood altogether.