Texas Girl Scouts Draw Continued Criticism for Planned Parenthood Support

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 20, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Texas Girl Scouts Draw Continued Criticism for Planned Parenthood Support

by Paul Nowak
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
February 20, 2004

Waco, TX (LifeNews.com) — Support for two Planned Parenthood affiliate events by The Bluebonnet Council of the Girl Scouts of America in Waco, Texas has led to a boycott of Girl Scout cookies in the area. Meanwhile, the local council will be considering whether to reverse its decision in light of the criticism.

The Bluebonnet Council of the Girl Scouts, to which 6,000 girls in 14 counties belong, has been criticized by pro-life groups for its sponsorship of Planned Parenthood’s "Nobody’s Fool" event aimed at educating minors about sexual education. The "education" includes literature saying abortion is an acceptable practice.

Beth Vivio, executive director of the Bluebonnet Council, expressed concern for individual Girl Scouts who might be exposed to the debate by those who are boycotting the cookie sale.

"We hope they will not approach Girl Scouts, young girls, and try to speak to them about this because, certainly, the girls would not understand what they’re talking about, the context of it," Vivio said.

"I’m sorry that the girls may have to suffer a while for what their leaders have done," Rick Ellis, of Waco Right to Life, responded. "But if someone’s involved with Planned Parenthood, we don’t need to be involved with them."

Revenues from the cookie sales can account for as much as 50 percent of a council’s budget, which includes salaries of employees who, in the case of the Waco council, decided to sponsor the Planned Parenthood events and put the National Girl Scout Logo on the programs.

The Girl Scouts of America in New York, who did not authorize the use of the logo in the sponsorships, were not available for comment, and the Bluebonnet Council did not return phone calls from LifeNews.com.

Vivio said the council’s board will decide whether or not to continue the relationship with Planned Parenthood at its March 25 meeting.

The Planned Parenthood event sponsorship has caused several scout groups to disaffiliate from the Girl Scout organization. Troops as far away as Houston, which is outside of the Waco council, have disbanded over the relationship with Planned Parenthood.

The Girl Scout council has also recognized Planned Parenthood of Waco’s chief executive, Pam Smallwood, as a "Woman of Distinction."

"That’s not who I want as a role model for my daughter," said Lisa Aguilar, mother of a 10-year-old Girl Scout who broke down into tears when her parents explained Planned Parenthood’s role in abortions.

The council is also sponsoring a Planned Parenthood event called "Talking About Sex in the Sanctuary" for local clergy, a program that uses a European model of 3 R’s – Rights, Respect and Responsibility. The program pitches "sexuality [as] viewed as a normal and healthy part of being human, of being a teen, of being alive," according to the Advocates for Youth RRR website.

It lauds the Dutch, German, and French for spending less effort "trying to prevent young people from having sex and more time and effort in educating and empowering young people to behave responsibly when they eventually decide to have sex."

John Pisciotta, an economics professor at a local university, has aired radio spots on a local Christian radio station asking those joining in the boycott to "not to interact in any way will Girl Scouts and parents selling cookies," but to instead voice their concerns to the council directly and simply "abstain" from making purchases in the fund raiser.

The sanction Pisciotta is urging is hitting the pocketbook of the council harder than individual troops.

The price per box of cookies, as well as the percentage that goes to the girls’ troops, is set by each council. In the Bluebonnet council, $.40 of every $3.00 box of cookies, or 13 percent, goes to the troop that sells it, with the remaining money going to the council. This puts Bluebonnet on the lower end of the 12-17 percent range nationally reported by the Girl Scouts of America.

Meanwhile, Diane Hensley, executive director of McLennan County Collaborative Abstinence Project (McCAP), hopes that the local Girl Scout council and other organizations will aid their youth conference, "Taking Charge, EOL (End of Lecture)," this summer. The conference features two programs for boys and girls, and offers relationship training, information on STDs, self-defense workshops, as well as alcohol and drug abstinence and nutrition and financial responsibility training.

Unlike the Nobody’s Fool conference, parents have been invited and are encouraged to attend McCAP’s program. Also, without the literature approving of abortion or being provided by the leading abortion provider in the state, it would be much more palatable to parents then the alternative.

"Kids need this information," Hensley told LifeNews.com. "But to be too centered on sex sends a message." Hensley added that teens need to know that if they are abstinent from sex, drugs and alcohol it frees them for other things, such as education and finding their place in this world, experiences they should be seeking in their adolescent years.

A poll in January by Zogby International showed that 96 percent of parents would prefer their children be taught abstinence in sexual education programs.

Related Sites:
McLennan County Collaborative Abstinence Project – https://www.mccap.org