St.Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson has circulated a letter calling on parishes to cut off any affiliation to the Girl Scouts, arguing that the organization conflicts with Roman Catholic beliefs. In his letter Carlson described the group as exhibiting a troubling pattern of behavior, and went on to suggest that the organization’s mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character was at odds with Catholicism.
Many of us may have assumed that the Girl Scouts are a harmless group that exists solely to nurture and support young women. But according to right-wing conspiracies there’s a dark side to the Thin Mint cookies we all love so dearly. In his note, Archbishop Carlson went on to say, “We must stop and ask ourselves — is Girl Scouts concerned with the total well-being of our young women? Does it do a good job forming the spiritual, emotional, and personal well being of Catholic girls?”
Conservative groups are not pleased with the Girl Scout’s diversity, enthusiastic inclusivity and recent embrace of trans-women. Over the last several years right wing groups have staged a concerted black-lash, falsely accusing the Girl Scouts of promoting lesbianism, general suspicion towards men, and discouraging sexual “self-restraint.”
In 2010, 30 members of Girls Scouts of USA attended the 54 Commission on the Status of Women in the United Nations in New York City. The Girl Scouts organized a meeting and encouraged attendees to “take action on global issues concerning women and girls.”
After the meeting, Republican groups accused the Girl Scouts of working with Planned Parenthood to distribute “sex manuals” to young women at the event. According to Concerned Women for America, a conservative activist group, the Girl Scouts hosted a ‘no adults allowed’ meeting at the United Nations where a graphic sex guide was distributed. The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute claimed that the Girl Scouts were using the brochure to promote casual sex and to encourage HIV-positive people to conceal their status from sex partners.
There was, in fact, a brochure on sexual health made by Planned Parenthood. The brochure was passed around at an entirely separate meeting that not a single Girl Scout attended.
The notion of girls coming together to learn and grow is terrifying to the conservatives who are determined to shut down the Girl Scouts. According to them, girls should not have choices in how they work, who or if they marry, or how they use their bodies. Conservatives are fighting a war to restore women to their “rightful” place. Fortunately, the Girl Scouts are going to continue to embody feminist ideals amid conservative absurdity.