I recently wrote an article about a boycott of Girl Scout cookies that is growing called Cookie Cott 2014. It is hard to imagine that GSUSA, which was created to instill values in our girls, would be pro-abortion advocates. I was able to interview Ann Saladin the creator of MyGirlScoutCouncil.com. She is a mother of a former 4th generation Girl Scout and has researched extensively about the link between GSUSA and their reproductive rights agenda. Sometimes our questions and concerns are best addressed by those that have been directly involved and have first-hand experience. Please read the following interview for a better understanding of this controversy surrounding Girl Scouts USA.
JK: I know that you are a mother of a former 4th generation Girl Scout. Could you tell me a little about your history with the Girl Scout organization both as a former scout and a mother to a Girl Scout as well as some of the reasons why you enjoyed being a part of the GS?
Ann Saladin: Like many adult women, my memories of being a Girl Scout are very positive. We had a lot of fun camping, we were involved in a lot of activities to earn badges and it is a very positive memory of my childhood. This was a natural thing for my daughter to experience. She was a former 4th generation Girl Scout and the memories that I had were the memories that my mom had and the memories that my grandmother had. It was a wonderful legacy that we were happy to pass on to the next generation.
JK: Why did you decide to leave Girl Scouts?
Ann Saladin: I had some information passed on to me about a particular event and that was in 2010. I called my council, I called GSUSA and I did a lot of personal research. To be honest, it became one of those events that became a bit of he said, she said and my husband and I let our daughter finish out her year in GS. When we were getting ready to register my daughter in GS for 4th grade it just didn’t feel right. The entire scenario of that particular incident could not be explained away to my satisfaction. We just decided this was not something that we wanted to continue in. We didn’t tell anyone why and we actually continued to buy Girl Scout cookies from our friends for several years until I decided I wanted to look into this again. When I got back on and started researching I was floored and realized that one particular incident that caused us to remove our daughter was just the tip of the iceberg. There were problems in events, in curriculum, in materials and resources that were being suggested to the girls that was far and away beyond my understanding of what the Girl Scout organization was.
JK: I have read the Girl Scout’s Frequently Asked Questions and I have also read your recent article in Life Site News that details the discrepancy in some of the answers GS gives on their site. Why do you think GSUSA is not being fully transparent about their ties to pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood or their advocacy of curriculum that promotes sexual reproductive rights?
Ann Saladin: I think they know if they are fully transparent they are going to lose a lot of members. It’s an organization that is already on the decline. In the last decade, GSUSA membership has dropped by 20%. Their cookie sales, last year, dropped almost 5%. So they are in a financial crisis and they can’t afford to lose any more members. They are experiencing a lot of heat on this and so to have their FAQ’s that they can present, that seem reasonable, that does waylay some fears for some people. I understand that you want to believe that GSUSA is not doing this and you want to believe that when they tell you they are not that it is the truth. We all have a very positive connotation of the Girl Scouts, it’s a piece of Americana, and you want to believe them. For me, that is why it is so important to be documented in my concerns. Girl Scouts puts out two sentences that say “we don’t partner with Planned Parenthood” and that is enough for a lot of people. My response is that Planned Parenthood is one small piece of a larger concern about the GSUSA. To say that my local GS council does not partner with Planned Parenthood does not mean that everything is okay.
JK: I recently read comments by parents and troop leaders who argue that their troop or council is independent of what the GSUSA or the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) promotes. They hold their own personal position and it is not impacted by the decisions or ideals at the GSUSA headquarter level. How do you respond to this?
Ann Saladin: My response to this is that if my daughter could just be a member of her troop she would still be a Girl Scout. She had a wonderful leader. They did wonderful activities. They did community service. It was everything that I thought that Girl Scouts was. The problem is, she is not just a member of that troop. When you meet a little girl in a green vest you don’t say, “Oh, you are a member of troop 123.” No you say, “Oh you are a Girl Scout.” Every girl’s membership is to the national organization and the membership dues that every girl pays at the beginning of the year goes to the national organization. Seeing the choices that GSUSA is making in terms of curriculum, in terms of materials, in terms of affiliations with other organizations; my daughter was not going to contribute to that financially. GSUSA was not representing my daughter. And in fact, they are promoting the opposite of the family values that we are instilling in her at home.
JK: There are many pro-life organizations that are taking a stand against GSUSA especially with the recent cookie boycott. I think of all the parents out there who love being involved with their Girl Scout troop but also feel torn about what to do with the fact that GSUSA is promoting this liberal ideology that they do not agree with. What advice would you have for them in trying to change things from the inside?
Ann Saladin: That is a real hot topic question. I can only answer for myself, personally. I have a great passion for this subject. It is never my intent to tell people you should or should not be a part of the GS organization. That is something only parents can decide. My response is to inform about the totality of the organization that you are involved in and supporting. The change from within element might be something I could consider if we were only talking about adults because adults could engage. However, do we really want girls to be the front of that and to be involved in an organization that we think isn’t everything that it should be? These problems with the GSUSA that people are responding to are not new. These kinds of problems have been around for decades and there has been no meaningful move by GSUSA to make that change that people are seeking.
JK: Would you agree that with all the factual evidence you have compiled regarding GSUSA’s push to promote a sexual/ reproductive rights agenda that the main objective of GSUSA is to raise future feminists?
Ann Saladin: Yes, I do. I have chosen to put in a pro-life context but it is bigger than that. When you look at the entire organization and you add it all up there is an agenda there. Look at the tweet that included Wendy Davis that made big headlines. They asked the question to their members, “Who do you think was the woman of the year for 2013?” and linked it to the Huffington Post article. Why couldn’t they stop the question right there without that link? There are 2 million members of GSUSA who are articulate and intelligent. Let them make their own responses without starting the conversation with a bias resource. There’s nothing wrong with the question. It was the way they presented it that was problematic.
JK: What is a good alternative to Girl Scouts?
Ann Saladin: American Heritage Girls is a fabulous organization. It is everything that Girl Scouts is. It is wearing vests, earning badges, camping and it is Christ-centered. Their tag line is that they are pro-God, pro-family and pro-life. The other thing I like about them is that fund raising is optional and they get to keep 100% of the sales.
To learn more about Ann Saladin’s research go to: www.mygirlscoutcouncil.com