Catholic Bishop: Parents Should be Wary of Girl Scouts' Treatment of Sexualty and 'Choice'

By Tierney Smith | June 9, 2011 | 5:32pm EDT

As part of its 'Power of Girls' pledge, Girl Scouts promise to "take action, locally and globally, to make the world a better place for girls." A separate pledge, now removed from the Girl Scouts' Web site, said girls should urge elected officials "to support legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and promotes energy efficiency and renewable technologies.” (Photo from the GSUSA Web site)

(CNSNews.com) - A Roman Catholic auxiliary bishop in Denver is warning Catholic parents to be wary of the way that Girl Scouts USA and its parent organization--the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)--treat issues of sexuality and choice."

Bishop James D. Conley, an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Denver, wrote in a column published recently in the Denver Catholic Register: “Parents would be wise to spend some serious time browsing the WAGGGS and GSUSA websites, following the links they find there, and examining for themselves how these organizations deal with sexuality, ‘choice’ and reproductive issues. It may be a sobering experience.”

Planned Parenthood, NARAL- Pro-Choice America, the Feminist Majority Foundation and Ms. Magazine are some of the pro-abortion organizations linked to Girl Scouts and its parent organizations.

The bishop acknowledged that the Girl Scouts is not a monolithic organization run from the top down and that many local Girl Scout troops are run through churches.

“Youth ministers are quick to note that Scouting’s structure allows for a lot of autonomy,” he wrote. “Girls make up local troops. Troops make up councils. And nationwide councils make up Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA). GSUSA and a few other large organizations make up WAGGGS. Each local council or troop determines what’s appropriate for its specific needs. Each troop leader decides what members see,” he said.

“Nonetheless, what happens at the international and national levels of Scouting has an important trickle-down effect. This is exactly why ‘pro-choice’ organizations have worked to develop connections with the Scouting movement,” the bishop added.

Jeannette De Melo, the director of communications for the Denver Archdiocese, told CNSNews.com the bishop was giving pastoral advice in his column to the diocese, not telling parents what to do.

“The intention of the [Bishop’s] column was to let parents, who are the primary educators of their children, know how Girl Scouts and its affiliated agencies deal with sexuality, ‘choice’ and reproductive issues and the connections Girl Scouts has with ‘pro-choice’ organizations,” De Melo said.

Girl Scouts USA spokeswoman Michelle Tompkins, however, told CNSNews.com that the Girl Scouts does not take a pro-abortion position.

“We have a position on this issue, which is we take no position on the issue,” Tompkins told CNSNews.com in an e-mail. “We believe it’s a private matter for girls and their families to discuss.”

But the Girl Scouts have been subject to scrutiny when it comes to the issue of abortion since Girl Scouts USA CEO Kathy Cloninger admitted in an NBC Today show interview with Lester Holt on March 5, 2004 that while the national organization does not partner with Planned Parenthood, local Girl Scout chapters do have relationships with Planned Parenthood organizations around the country.

“Girl Scouts is the largest voice for, and advocate for girls across the country. Know that girls grow up with very complex issues facing them. And so we do, across the country, tackle the issues of human sexuality and body image and all of the things that girls are facing. And 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 (emphasis added),” Cloninger said.

Tompkins confirmed to CNSNews.com that what her boss said in 2004 was still true in 2011 – that local Girl Scout chapters are free to partner with Planned Parenthood.

CNSNews.com asked Tompkins: “(D)oes Girl Scouts USA ‘have relationships’ or partner with Planned Parenthood in any way?”

“The answer there is no, we don’t,” Tompkins said. “The national organization, Girl Scouts of the USA, has not, does not, and has no plans to have any kind of partnership with Planned Parenthood."

“However, our local councils are free to partner with any community groups that they see fit and especially when it comes to areas, when it comes to sexual education and health education for girls those -- if a troop chooses to do some sort of activity along those lines, it requires parental consent for each, kind of, session and it has to come about through the families of the girls.”

According to its own fact sheet, Planned Parenthood clinics performed 332,278 abortions in 2009, which is up from 324,008 in 2008.

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