The Girl Scouts of USA have withstood an arrant assualt from conservative legislators this year, having been both characterized as a “radicalized organization” that supports abortions and the homosexual agenda, and accused of partnering with the recently oft-beleaguered Planned Parenthood by GOP lawmakers. Now, the Scouts are being attacked by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for their “offensive” program materials and alleged association with groups that conflict with Catholic teaching.
Coinciding with the Scouts’ 100th anniversary celebrations, U.S. Catholic bishops have launched an official inquiry:
The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts’ “possible problematic relationships with other organizations’’ and various “problematic’’ program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops. [...]
Girl Scout leaders hope the bishops’ apprehensions will be eased once they gather information. But there’s frustration within the iconic youth organization — known for its inclusiveness and cookie sales — that it has become such an ideological target, with the girls sometimes caught in the political crossfire.
And the Catholic leaders are also attacking the organization for its supposed connection to Planned Parenthood. The Scouts have consistently and unequivocally denied this accusation, which still has yet to be proven true. The supposed connection between the groups stems from a Girl Scout workshop at a 2010 United Nations event in which an International Planned Parenthood brochure was made available to girls in attendance. The brochure was aimed at young people with HIV and contained pertinent information on how to safely lead active sex lives. Spokespersons for the Scouts maintain that the organization possessed no advance knowledge of the brochure, and thus played no role in distributing it.
The smears against the Girl Scouts, like the Planned Parenthood claim, are a manufactured controversy from right-wing publications. “It’s been hard to get the message out there as to what is true when distortions get repeated over and over,’’ said Gladys Padro-Soler, the Girl Scouts’ director of inclusive membership strategies. The Scouts have addressed most if not all of their critics’ concerns on their official website.
The Scouts also maintain that they do not take a position or develop materials on issues in relation to human sexuality, birth control, abortion, and that “parents or guardians make all decisions regarding program participation that may be of a sensitive nature.”
At least one quarter of the organization’s 2.3. million members are reported to be Catholic, so officials worry that an attack from the Catholic church could further drive down participation in the organization. “For us, there’s an overarching sadness to it,’’ said Girl Scouts’ spokeswoman, Michelle Tompkins. “We’re just trying to further girls’ leadership.’’