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Are the Girl Scouts Right for Catholic Girls?

By Taylor Wilkerson
March 25th, 2012
Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com)

Girl Scouts is an organization that has always committed itself to teaching girls wholesome skills, such as self-respect, the ability to communicate effectively with other people, and the tools for leadership. Or so we thought. Parents send their daughters to Girl Scouts because it has the reputation of being a program that instills values and builds character, but it has become increasingly clear recently that parents, especially Catholic parents, need to re-think this traditional image.

Cookies, little green uniforms, badges: the three main things that come to mind when people think about the Girl Scouts. Anyone who has ever been in the program knows, however, that it is so much more than that.

Girl Scouts is an organization that has always committed itself to teaching girls wholesome skills, such as self-respect, the ability to communicate effectively with other people, and the tools for leadership. Or so we thought. Parents send their daughters to Girl Scouts because it has the reputation of being a program that instills values and builds character, but it has become increasingly clear recently that parents, especially Catholic parents, need to re-think this traditional image. 

Rather than teaching girls social skills, the Girl Scouts of America (GSUSA) is promoting liberal agendas through distributed materials. In the Journey books, a series which GSUSA offers to Girl Scouts as a way of helping the girls learn more about their communities and the world, suggested links lead the girls to sites promoting abortion, contraception, and other things that contradict the social and moral teachings of the Catholic Church. These books praise pro-choice advocates, including Delores Huerta, Gloria Steinem, and Betty Friedan, as being "voices for good" and models for the girls to follow. In one book titled "aMUSE", which is promoted for 4th and 5th graders, GSUSA recommends the play "Simply Maria" by Josefina Lopez. This play mocks purity, marriage, the sanctity of human life, and the Catholic priesthood in shocking ways and is not in the least appropriate for children.

Upon discovering such material last year, one Girl Scout, Sydney Volanski, left the organization and started her own website called Speak Now: Girl Scouts where she provides resources for parents and their children to learn about the ideologies GSUSA is pushing with its members. In an interview with Fox and Friends, Volanski said that the Girl Scouts "promise to be neutral politically and about certain social issues, but when you examine the women that they promote and the websites and books that they refer girls to, there is a clear liberal ideology".

It is also interesting to note that  GSUSA claims that it "does not have a relationship or a partnership with Planned Parenthood", but in a 2004 interview with NBC, the former CEO of GSUSA, Kathy Cloninger, stated "We [the Girl Scouts] have relationships with our church communities...and with Planned Parenthood organizations across the country to bring information-based sex education programs to girls."

Odd for an organization that has no ties with Planned Parenthood and also says on its website that it takes no official position on sexuality, contraception, or abortion.

In spite of these issues and the concerns raised by girls and their parents, the new CEO of GSUSA, Anna Maria Chavez, a professing Catholic, does not seem to be making changes and in fact has a liberal history of her own, which includes working with pro-choice officials and organizations. Chavez has described Arizona governor Janet Napolitano, who as governor vetoed a ban on partial birth abortions, as her mentor.

In 2006, Chavez helped set up the Raul H. Castro Institute as a means of helping the Latino community of Arizona. As a member of the RCI Executive Committee, Chavez oversaw the RCI Inaugural Symposium where Yolanda Chavez, a long-time Planned Parenthood sex educator, was the only speaker chosen to address the question of how to solve the problem of teenage pregnancy. In 2009, Chavez delivered a keynote address at the Women's Equality Day celebration, which was sponsored by several organizations, including Planned Parenthood of San Antonio and South Central Texas.

This is not the impression one gets after reading the letter which Chavez recently sent to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In the letter, Chavez introduces herself to the bishops and says that the Girl Scouts are "committed to building stronger ties with all faith communities, including the Catholic Church". One has to wonder, if this statement is true, why GSUSA seems more committed to promoting ideas contrary to the Church's moral teaching and introducing young girls to websites and resources which mock the Catholic Church and give information about abortion and contraception than "building stronger ties" with the Church. It seems that Ms. Chavez, who is the CEO of an organization that claims knowing what one believes and standing for it is a quality of effective leadership, has some very important decisions to make.

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