Between the Susan G. Komen controversy, the birth control panel, and Virginia's efforts at pre-abortion sonograms and personhood bills, you may have had enough of the culture wars and the fight against women. Well, tough—this week brings yet a new and bizarre episode. Indiana state Representative Bob Morris sent a letter to his colleagues urging them to oppose the resolution celebrating the Girl Scouts' 100th anniversary.
In his letter, leaked to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Morris didn't mince words. He writes that the Girl Scouts "promote homosexual lifestyles" and partners with Planned Parenthood:
Nonetheless, abundant evidence proves that the agenda of Planned Parenthood includes sexualizing young girls through the Girl Scouts, which is quickly becoming a tactical arm of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood instructional series and pamphlets are part of the core curriculum at GSA training seminars. Denver Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley of Denver last year warned parents that "membership in the Girl Scouts could carry the danger of making their daughters more receptive to the pro-abortion agenda."
Just to be clear, Morris attributes his "abundant evidence" to internet research. There's no shortage of anti-Girl Scout sites out there, though be warned, some are blocked by network administrators for having hate speech. The Girl Scouts organization has denied any partnership with Planned Parenthood. As Amanda Marcotte reported last year, conservative Christian groups have been targeting the Girl Scouts for a while now as alternative lifestyle promoters intent on making little girls sex-crazed lesbians who promote abortion. It's not exactly reality based.
But, it is true that the Girl Scouts have a subversive history. Marcotte notes that the organization began as the female alternative to the Boy Scouts—while the American Boy Scouts effort sought to reinforce traditional ideas of masculinity, the Girl Scout founder wanted to give girls a chance at "self reliance and resourcefulness." That's not all. In the 1950s, they began very publicly to integrate, prompting Martin Luther King Jr. to call the organization "a force for desegregation." The organization doesn't ban gay adults from volunteering with Girl Scout troops, though it does have a policy that volunteers not discuss sexual orientation. Last year the organization made headlines when a Colorado branch allowed a transgender seven year-old who identified as female to join a troop.
Morris' opposition to the Girl Scouts has already prompted outrage across the blogosphere. At Slate, Marcotte argues, "it was just a matter of time before some politician made hay over the existence of the Girl Scouts."
But in this case, Morris' letter may actually have prompted a different sort of discussion. Rather than polarizing the legislature and prompting another battle, no one seems to be supporting Morris. Quite the opposite in fact. While state Girl Scout leaders pointed out factual inaccuracies, Indiana's Republican Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma, found what I think is the best possible way to show his opposition. He sat at the dais with a box of Girl Scout cookies, offering one to any one who walked by.
The Girl Scouts are a likeable group after all—little girls who go camping and sell cookies. Morris has shown a light on the increasingly negative campaign against them, perpetuated by extremists. And in that light, the allegations look, well, more extreme and more loony. Call me an optimist, but the Girl Scouts have a pretty good track record of normalizing progressive values—making girls self-reliant, racial integration, and more recently inclusivity for gay and transgender youth. Morris' mission against them may actually spread give the Girl Scouts more popularity in time for their 100th anniversary.
After all, Indiana legislature already passed the Girl Scout resolution, and currently Morris is the only representative who hasn't signed on.