The Girl Scouts require all members to recite the Girl Scout Law which includes the promise that “I will do my best to be honest and fair.” Last week, Anna Maria Chavez – CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) – released a YouTube video that claims to address the many concerns that prompted the 2014 CookieCott, as well as other controversies surrounding her organization.
I am a former Girl Scout myself, but after hearing Ms. Chavez’s video comments, which range from misleading to blatantly deceitful, I couldn’t help but wonder if Ms. Chavez has forgotten the Girl Scout Law and its call for honesty.
Things must be bad for the Girl Scouts. In Ms. Chavez’s desperate attempt to convince the American public that Girl Scouts is a God-honoring, wholesome organization, she makes multiple claims that are easily refuted by well-documented evidence of the Girl Scouts’ past and present relationships, policies, and materials.
Ms. Chavez argues that the CookieCott is based on a false claim that her organization has become too political. Political bias is not the reason for the CookieCott, but since Chavez herself includes this issue, let’s consider how GSUSA capped off 2013 with the promotion of left-leaning political figures and achievements.
In December 2013, Girl Scouts USA used Twitter to promote a HuffPost Women video which names State Senator Wendy Davis as a candidate for 2013 Woman of the Year specifically because of her filibuster defending late-term abortion access. A couple of weeks after the Wendy Davis debacle, GSUSA recommended a Washington Post article entitled “7 Women Who Made a Difference in 2013.” GSUSA introduced the article by stating “with courage, confidence, and character these seven women show us what it takes to fulfill dreams.” Among the Girl Scouts’ seven women of “courage and character” is Kathleen Sebelius, honored specifically for “her ferocious defense” of Obamacare. The article shared by GSUSA also celebrates the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 2013.
If Ms. Chavez wants Americans to stop viewing Girl Scouts as political, perhaps her organization should stop featuring controversial liberal women like Kathleen Sebelius and Wendy Davis and avoid political, hot-button issues.
In the video, Chavez also proclaims, “We are committed to serving God and our country.” However, GSUSA made duty to God optional in the Girl Scout Promise in 1993 and GSUSA tells girls that they may remove or replace “God.” How serious is this “commitment” that Chavez professes?
The most deceitful claim Ms. Chavez makes about the Girl Scout “movement,” however, is this: “We do not now – nor have we ever – had a relationship with Planned Parenthood.” Mountains of well-documented evidence spanning decades illustrate the Girl Scout organization’s relationship with Planned Parenthood. Recently, a pro-life blogger exposed the Girl Scouts’ long history of working with the abortion advocacy group, documenting examples as far back as 1972.
In 2004, then-GSUSA CEO Kathy Cloninger made the following statement on national television: “We partner with many organizations. We have relationships with our church communities, with YWCAs, and with Planned Parenthood organizations across the country to bring information-based sex education programs to girls.” There’s nothing ambiguous about Ms. Cloninger’s statement.
In a 2011 CNSNews interview, GSUSA spokeswoman Michelle Tomkins confirmed that GSUSA permits local Girl Scout councils to partner with whomever they choose – including Planned Parenthood. The Girl Scouts/Planned Parenthood connection is an ongoing concern, with evidence of local councils working with Planned Parenthood as recently as 2013. The fact that Ms. Chavez makes such a boldly false claim with a straight face is both astounding and disturbing.
Ms. Chavez also claims that “Girl Scouts USA believes reproductive issues are deeply private matters best left to families.” Her statement is contradicted by the Girl Scouts’ own actions. The official Girl Scout curriculum – used and promoted by every Girl Scout council in the United States – tells girls to explore the website of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) where girls are instructed to download and share The Bali Global Youth Forum Declaration advocating for abortion on demand and the decriminalization of sex work. Additionally, girls who follow GSUSA’s recommendation and explore the WAGGGS website can learn about WAGGGS’s initiative called Talking About Sex, as well read the blogs of WAGGGS delegates that discuss WAGGGS’s advocacy for sexual and reproductive rights.
The Girl Scout curriculum refers girls to additional websites and organizations featuring abortion rights advocacy and reproductive issues, including the Population Council, Amnesty International, DoSomething.org, and the American Civil Liberties Union. Page scans from the Girl Scout curriculum and additional documentation are available through this resource.
Ms. Chavez’s deception is astonishing, so it’s no surprise that other former Girl Scouts are speaking out in opposition to her video, criticizing her violation of the Girl Scouts’ pledge to be honest and fair. Through the Girl Scout watchdog group mygirlscoutcouncil.com, former third-generation Girl Scout Ann Saladin recently released a “rebuttal” video effectively illustrating the contradictions between Ms. Chavez’s statements and the Girl scouts’ actions.
The rebuttal video features a clip from the Today Show interview of former GSUSA CEO Kathy Cloninger confirming the Girl Scout/Planned Parenthood relationship and many other examples from the Girl Scouts’ own materials and resources which directly contradict Ms. Chavez’s claims. An online documentation guide accompanies the rebuttal video so viewers can see additional proof that the Girl Scouts’ words and Girl Scouts’ actions are worlds apart.
Many things need to happen before the Girl Scout organization can be trusted again. Conservative families feel betrayed by the direction the group has taken in recent years. Perhaps the first step would be for the GSUSA leader and chief, Anna Maria Chavez, to review for herself the Girl Scout Promise and Law… because someone’s not being honest.