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Girl Scouts betray parents' trust

Mary Hasson

What do Girl Scouts aspire to be? “Healthy, Happy, and Hot,” apparently.  As in sexy-hot.  Last week, as part of a youth event sponsored by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) during the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, Planned Parenthood distributed a promotional brochure to the young attendees. What was the brochure promoting? Sex. But not your mother’s kind of sex.  Let’s read over the shoulder of a Girl Scout who opens the “Healthy, Happy, and Hot” brochure.  She’ll first discover that the basic sex ed “plumbing” lessons were, well, so provincial, so hetero-normative. There’s a whole new sexual world out there for her to explore. The brochure instructs that, “Many people think sex is just about vaginal or anal intercourse… But, there are lots of different ways to have sex and lots of different types of sex. There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself!” (http://www.c-fam.org/publications/id.1589/pub_detail.asp)

The Girl Scouts have got some big-time ‘splainin’ to do.  First, how does promoting “lots of different types of sex” with “no right or wrong” help “build girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place,” the mission of the Girl Scouts? (As an aside, who decided anal sex is as normal as vaginal intercourse? Or that “having fun” goes beyond either of those?)

It gets worse from there. The Girl Scouts profess to empower girls, teaching them to “relate to others with increasing understanding, skill, and respect…[to] develop values to guide their actions and provide the foundation for sound decision-making,” so they will enjoy a deeper “conviction about their own potential and self-worth.”  Well, let’s turn the page and see what helpful advice the brochure offers on values and self-worth: “Improve your sex life by getting to know your own body. Play with yourself! Masturbation is a great way to find out more about your body and what you find sexually stimulating. Mix things up by using different kinds of touch from very soft to hard. Talk about or act out your fantasies. Talk dirty to (your sexual partner).”

Values? I must have missed them. Respect? I don’t think so.

My parents always taught me that who you choose as your friends says a lot about who you are—and who you will become.  The same is true for organizations. The Girl Scouts’ association with Planned Parenthood is no passing flirtation. Girl Scouts’ CEO Kathy Cloninger has defended their partnership with Planned Parenthood since 2004, calling them a reliable provider of “information-based sex education programs to girls.”  Information like anal sex, masturbation, and “talking dirty”? Planned Parenthood’s not the only questionable ‘friend’ in the Girl Scouts’ neighborhood, however. The Girls Scouts’ 2008 Annual Report touts their co-branding initiatives with MTV–yes, MTV, the channel that shows an average of 9 sex scenes every hour, not to mention profanity-laced shows and music videos. Their co-branding efforts aim to make the Girl Scouts brand “fun and relevant” by having MTV celebrities promote it. What are their marketing people thinking? It’s more like sliming the Girl Scouts with MTV’s smutty image. Unless, of course, MTV reflects the new Girl Scouts.

But if Planned Parenthood and MTV are problematic ‘friends’ for the Girl Scouts to hang out with, more disturbing is their larger, extended family:  WAGGGS. In 2007, according the Girl Scouts’ IRS 990 form (the most recent year available on the website), the Scouts paid upwards of $1.8 million to WAGGGS in a “membership quota” affiliation fee. Hundreds of thousands of dollars also flow from local Girl Scout councils to WAGGGS through the Juliette Low World Friendship Fund.

So what’s the big deal about WAGGGS? The brochure episode described at the beginning of this blog was the handiwork of WAGGGS, an umbrella group that includes not just the U.S. Girl Scouts, but similar groups in countries across the world.  And there’s no question where WAGGGS  stands on adolescent sex-related issues like contraception, sex education, and reproductive health (the euphemism for abortion): http://www.wagggsworld.org/en/grab/20137/1/1Positionstatementtalkaboutsex.pdf. On nearly every moral issue related to sexuality, they support the pro-abortion agenda and oppose traditional values, pro-life policies, and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Caring parents will be troubled as well by WAGGGS’ emphasis on “peer education and non-formal [sex] education,” provided by member groups like the Girl Scouts “to enable girls and young women to make responsible choices about their lifestyles, including about their sexual and reproductive health.”  Translation: Back off, parents.  Let their friends and Girl Scout leaders do the talking when it comes to sex. Their anything-goes conversations are agenda-driven, intended to complement school-based sex education and contraceptive distribution programs. The WAGGGS paper also stresses support for “youth organizations which provide safe spaces for girls and young women to discuss sex and sexuality free from discrimination.” Nowhere does morality come into play. And parents are dismissed as “often reluctant” to talk about sex, and admonished “that young people should have the right to accurate sexuality information,” presumably provided by WAGGGS and friends.

You’ve got to look hard on the Girls Scouts’ website to connect the dots. To read the website, you’d think that WAGGGS was the innocuous sponsor of international slumber parties or recycling drives. Only when you get to the Annual Reports and IRS filings, and then to the WAGGGS position papers, does the reality become shockingly clear.

The Girl Scouts have betrayed the trust of millions of parents and Girl Scout alums who hold traditional values. Many parents, I suspect, would be shocked that their dues support an organization like WAGGGS. Nor would they welcome being cut out of the conversation when it comes to sex. And I can’t help but wonder…How many cookies did their girls have to sell so the Scouts could send 1.8 Million dollars to WAGGGS?

If my daughter were a Girl Scout, I’d want some answers. What do you think?

Topics: Culture , Current Events , Sexuality , Young Women

Mary Rice Hasson, the mother of seven, is a Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C. She blogs at wordsfromcana.

View all articles by Mary Hasson

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