Girl Scouts Leadership: Pro-Choice, Pro-Gay Ideologues–Worlds Apart from the Families They Serve (UPDATED)

Who’s calling the shots over at the Girl Scouts? And where’s the organization headed?

The questions matter for two reasons. First, it’s cookie season. Any day now some cute little girls wearing green sashes and bright smiles will knock on your door and sweetly seek support for their projects, badges, and activities. Do you write the check or not? (Forget your craving for Thin Mints. Think rationally!) Should you support the Girl Scouts?

Second, the Girl Scouts organization (GSUSA) is in trouble again. In recent weeks, they’ve drawn scrutiny for promoting biased resources (the left-wing Media Matters) and pressuring an employee to muzzle her pro-life views. The latest events top the pile of controversies that has outraged parents and spurred some Scouts to quit the organization.

What’s going on? Are these merely quality control issues–or do the problems reflect an ideological divide between the Girl Scout leadership and the families they serve?

In recent years, the Girl Scouts have tacked left, and criticism has mounted–over their programs and their partnerships with America’s leading abortion provider, Planned Parenthood. (As an aside, the Scouts mislead families and churches into believing that they have no relationship with Planned Parenthood at any level; they maintain that “Girl Scouts of the USA [i.e. the national office] does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood,” but say nothing about the many local Girl Scout councils that do partner with Planned Parenthood and its teen subsidiaries.

Concerned Scouts and their parents have publicized and documented the Girl Scouts’ liberal bent. And they’ve asked for changes.

The Girl Scouts consistently respond as if the reported problems are small brush fires that erupt sporadically because people are careless. And they project the impression that these brush fires would die out on their own, but for the hysterical bystanders—conservatives, of course—who shriek at the first wisp of smoke.

Offensive materials? Quality control issues, that’s all.

The official spokespersons’ carefully worded statements make small concessions, hoping to blow the smoke far enough away to divert attention from the incendiary truth: the leadership of today’s Girl Scouts is driven by a liberal ideology far out of step with the families and churches that support them.

Americans tilt right, increasingly so. For the third consecutive year, according to Gallup, conservative Americans (40%) outnumbered both moderates (35%) and liberals (21%). Interestingly, over the same three year period, the Girl Scouts lost half a million members and operated at a loss (In 2010, for example, GSUSA reported a $4.9 million loss.)

That’s a lotta people and a big chunk of change out the door.

You’d think the Girl Scouts leadership would consider a right turn or two, maybe even circle back around to their founding principles, like promoting “virtues” and “womanhood.”

But still the Scouts turn left. They can’t help themselves.

The Girl Scouts have filled their National Leadership Team and Board of Directors with unwavering ideologues whose careers, non-profit work, and philanthropic choices reflect a hefty commitment to liberal causes—same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian rights, abortion rights, comprehensive sex education, and ‘girl power’ feminism.

Their liberal ideology drives everything–from program materials to themes to partnerships–even their view of leadership.

It’s who they are. And it’s who the Girl Scouts organization has become.

A few examples tell the story.

A pro-abortion bias

The Girl Scouts imagines itself the “thought leader and voice for and of” American girls. But the only “voice” the Scouts hear is a liberal one. The Girl Scouts’ own research shows that the voice of American youth is strongly pro-life: just nine percent of 7th through 12th graders would advocate for abortion if a friend sought advice on an unexpected pregnancy. And only 25% believe it’s “all right” to have an abortion when a baby seriously disrupts life plans.

But the GSUSA refuses to allow pro-life advocacy to count towards badge work or program requirements, even within faith-based religious recognition programs. It’s “not an option,” they say. Yet their leadership program objectives consider advocacy for “reproductive health” in school or neighborhood as a sign that a Scout has mastered the desired advocacy skills.

In addition, the Girl Scouts’ curriculum (Your Voice, Your World: The Power of Advocacy) instructs girls to explore five pro-abortion advocacy organizations, including the Population Council, to see “where and how they are promoting change.” Pro-life advocacy groups? None.

The pro-abortion bias reflects the core convictions of the Girl Scouts’ National Leadership Team and Board of Directors. These individuals, who frame and implement the Girl Scouts’ mission, maintain tight connections with Planned Parenthood, other abortion advocates, and foundations that support them.


  • GSUSA CEO Anna Maria Chavez collaborated* with Planned Parenthood as head of Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas;
  • GSUSA National President Connie Lindsey has donated to the pro-abortion, pro-LGBT Chicago Foundation for Women;
  • GSUSA Board Member Barbara Krumsiek is the Board Chair of the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation which funds Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington;
  • GSUSA Board Member Monica Gil is a volunteer and former Board Member  (through 2011) of the Saban Free Clinic in L.A., which providesfree and easy” birth control, emergency contraception, and abortion referrals to teens over 12, without parental notice or consent;
  • GSUSA Board Member and Executive Secretary Debra Nakatomi is International Commissioner to the pro-abortion World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and promoted contraceptives to Asian teens through California’s Get Real program;
  • Laurie Westley, GSUSA Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Advocacy & the Research Institute, previously worked for the National Women’s Political Caucus, a group dedicated to electing pro-choice women.
  • Joan Wagnon, the GSUSA Treasurer, Board of Directors, accepted large campaign contributions from late-term abortionist George Tiller while she was Secretary of Kansas’ Department of Revenue and praised Tiller’s “social conscience and…big heart;”
  • Ellen S. Fox, GSUSA Board Member from 2008 through 2011, serves on the Investment Committee of the International Planned Parenthood Federation’s Board of Directors.

 The list goes on. (Click here.)

The new normal: homosexuality and sexual promiscuity

Pro-life views are not the only ones given short shrift by the Girl Scouts. Traditional sexual morality takes a hit, while lesbians enjoy good press in required Girl Scout materials. These books— the “Journeys” series—generally push global environmentalism from a feminist slant; certain books go further, normalizing homosexuality and degrading sexual behavior.

For example, the Journey book Your Voice Your World: The Power of Advocacy spotlights numerous lesbians and LGBT advocates as “Voices for Good”–role models for young Scouts.

And the 4th and 5th grade Journey book, Agent of Change, highlights author Marjane Satrapi, a young Iranian woman with “real moxie,” whose life–detailed in her comic book-style autobiography, Persepolis–will “inspire” Girl Scouts. But in Persepolis, Satrapi crudely discusses men’s genitalia (even with her own father), calls nuns prostitutes, gets explicit lessons about sex from a promiscuous friend, lives with eight homosexual men, and attempts suicide twice. Offensive illustrations and shocking sexual dialogue complete the picture. For ten-year olds?

It gets worse.

Another Journey book, GIRLtopia, encourages 9th and 10th graders “to imagine a perfect world—for girls.” It recommends the book, The Gate to Women’s Country, by Sheri Tepper (former Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood), as a utopian journey into “a future world where women spend their lives learning and discovering lost knowledge.” That’s a deceptive gloss on a book laced with obscenities, revolting dialogue, and lewd descriptions, and which presents men as violent barbarians. The book graphically describes women having sex with random warriors at a semi-annual Carnival, undergoing brutal, demeaning genital exams, and breeding out violence by compulsive sterilization and selective prostitution. The only good men are castrated men. This is Girl Scout utopia?

Juliette Low, the Girl Scouts’ founder, would be aghast.

Why would Girl Scout Execs and Board members approve this material?

Because they don’t find it shocking or radical at all.

It reflects their worldview—sexual promiscuity is a given and homosexuality is normal. And indeed, key players at the Girl Scouts have a history of advocating those very positions, particularly on homosexuality.

Timothy Higdon, for example, holds a pivotal position at GSUSA: as Chief of External Affairs, he oversees marketing, fundraising, advocacy, and research. Higdon’s official bio on the Girl Scout website touts his earlier work for the Army, a fundraising firm, and Amnesty International. It even mentions he’s an Eagle Scout. But it doesn’t mention that, spurred by his decision to come out as a gay man, he’s a “seasoned gay rights activist.” (For example, in 2002 he headed a Florida gay rights organization working closely with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.)

In 2011, Higdon welcomed another homosexual activist to the Girl Scout team: Deborah Taft, Senior VP of Fund Development, sits on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Board of Governors. (HRC pushes same-sex marriage and is an adoption bully, pummeling religious adoption agencies that prefer married heterosexuals to homosexual pairs.)

Other LGBT activists fill prominent GSUSA positions or Board seats. Consider GSUSA Media Spokesperson Joshua Ackley. By day, he writes the Girl Scouts’ blog. By night, he frolics in unsavory places reminiscent of his homopunk career. He’s the former lead singer of the Dead Betties, a queer band whose music videos feature masturbation, prostitution, and sexualized violence against women. Ackley’s past activism suggests he’s not likely to flinch over a sexually inappropriate book or lesbian role models.  He’s not alone.

The LGBT advocates in the Girl Scouts’ inner circle help set the organization’s trajectory: GSUSA emphasizes diversity and tolerance, applauds adolescent acceptance of LGBT behavior, promotes lesbians as role models, and allies itself with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

Forget character.  Think advocacy.

I opened this article with two questions.  First, who’s calling the shots at the Girl Scouts? The answer: incorrigible liberals–unbending proponents of abortion, homosexuality, and teen contraception.

Second, where’s the organization headed? The Girl Scouts’ vaunted leadership programs have morphed into liberal training grounds. While the Scouts’ founding vision promoted “the virtues of womanhood;” today’s Scouts strive for advocacy-oriented objectives.

The new “Girl Scout Leadership Experience” is less about the person a girl becomes and more about “taking action” aligned with the liberal agenda. GSUSA trains girls to be “advocates,” mini community organizers who see themselves as “agents of change,” rather than young women of virtue who exercise leadership with an eye towards “personal honor…and the public good.” (Girl Scout Mission, 1917).

Indeed, it’s hard to find the language of virtue in the Scouts’ program materials. Patriotism? Self-sacrifice? Humility? Self-control? Nope. The new Girl Scouts focus on diversity, “environmental justice” (they’ve got a whole book on it), and liberal advocacy.

But don’t expect the Scouts to ‘fess up. Though they’ve gutted the meanings of “character” and “leadership,” they continue to snow member families and sponsoring organizations (like the Catholic Church) with their institutional history as a character-building, leadership organization.

Bishops, pastors, ministers, and parents, don’t be fooled. If the Girl Scouts’ leadership–toting the same pro-abortion, pro-gay, environmentalist, feminist baggage—showed up today as a new organization and sought your sponsorship to shape girls in their image, would you say yes? I doubt it.

So…should you support today’s Girl Scouts?

My answer: a resounding “No!”

What’s yours?

NOTE: *The word “collaborated” replaces the verb “partnered” that appeared in an earlier version of this article. Although “partnered” has a range of meanings including an alliance or collaboration, the author has replaced it in order to preclude suggestion that a contractual, business partnership existed. The significance of the relationship remains, in the author’s view.



17 thoughts on “Girl Scouts Leadership: Pro-Choice, Pro-Gay Ideologues–Worlds Apart from the Families They Serve (UPDATED)

  1. I have never commented to an online posting or article however this writing left me in shock.

    Let me preface by saying, I was taught and embody acceptance and understanding. I was raised Catholic and attended parochial grade, high school and college. I was GS from 1st- 6th grade and have fond memories of camp, friends, challenges and leadership.

    This is far from a holistic look at the organization, not one word about the development of character and positive self-image of young women.

    Last week I participated in a pinning ceremony for my youngest daughter, a Daisy Scout.

    I was impressed by the significance of the words used during the ceremony, as well as the how the games incorporated later in the event were not simply fun. They were utilized as the catalyst to talk with the girls about honesty, character and fairness.

    At the close of the evening, twelve kindergarten, first grade girls and their parents stood in a circle holding hands (right over left). I grew misty eyed as they sang the classic “Make New Friends, but Keep the Old…”. Wow, true words… and a great message.

    I live in reality, not bubble of ideals. It is offensive to read this hypocritical approach touted as accuracy. Not everyone in the world has the same beliefs, that is the beauty of diversity.

    In a world of many races and denominations I pray programs like the GS continue to exist . Young women are in deep need of real opportunities to develop their character. There is a lack of strong role models and guidance, young girls are acting out. There is a trend on woman to woman violence… and if you have seen one second of television there is a huge celebration for women who lack any ethics.

    For many the GS provide a backbone and stability. Perhaps it is true that support and/or funding goes to “leftist” ventures but politicians, companies and organizations alike have agendas that may not be alignment with everything I personally believe.

    Looking at purpose of the program it is hardly to develop “left wing” robots. GS does not encourage being gay or promote a prochoice stance, this provides a forum for young ladies to learn to navigate through the real world with their eyes open.

    Articles such as these, one sided and attacking is what the American public has come to “know” about Catholics. It is simply against the pillars of the church to project such narrow minded attacks.

    Hop off the Catholic soapbox, demonstrate good character, rather than judgment and create the world Jesus envisioned.


    PS I find it ironic that the “right wing” Boy Scouts remains unmentioned by this author. Although they have publicly struggled with pedophilia, I guess since their “beliefs” right she doesn’t feel the need to explore the deviant behavior?

    • Hi Allyson,

      Thanks for your comments and sorry for the delay in posting, but I needed to tend to family matters. I appreciate that you loved your Girl Scout experience and that you want your daughter to experience the same thing. Sounds like it works for you, and that’s fine.

      My article is not a comprehensive look at every good or bad impact the organization has, but makes a very specific point:
      In spite of their stated policy to let parents handle sensitive topics related to sexuality (which would include topics like sexual behavior, attitudes, contraception, and sexual orientation and identity), the Girl Scouts’ materials (such as the Journey books) promote or refer girls to authors, books, movies, and organizations that are are specifically pro-abortion and pro-LGBT and discuss explicit sexual matters—AND the Girl Scouts do not give the parents any warning about it. When the Journey books honor an author like Marjane and promote a book like Persepolis, without informing parents of the book’s explicit content and obtaining their permission, the Scouts fail keep their commitment and betray the trust of parents who strongly feel that content should not be promoted to their girls.

      In addition, because of the leadership’s ideological bent, the Girl Scouts partners with and promotes organizations that are explicitly pro-abortion—groups abhorrent to many families (yes, including Catholics)–and fails to be up front with parents about those relationships.

      The Girl Scouts have a truth-in-labeling problem. They need to come clean– to be up front with parents about the problematic materials, relationships, and the pro-abortion/ pro-gay ideological bent–so parents can freely decide if that’s what they want their girls exposed to.

      If you have no problem with pro-abortion or pro-LGBT attitudes, then it sounds like you will be comfortable in the new Girl Scouts. But parents have a right to honesty from the Scouts, so they can make an informed decision about membership.

      Don’t you agree that parents have a right to know what the Scouts are promoting to their daughters? And don’t parents have a right to expect the Scouts to keep their promise that they will NOT promote objectionable content without parents’ permission?

      And don’t parents have a right to know that the Girl Scouts work closely with other organizations that promote abortion, both locally and globally?

      It’s time for the Girl Scouts to come clean.
      And parents who DON”T support abortion and LGBT advocacy have the right to insist that the Scouts not promote offensive materials, organizations, and role models to their daughters. That’s my message…and I’m sticking to it!

      • Mary, Ally must think that you contrived this information yourself; like you have some vendetta or agenda you are working from. If Ally would take her blinders off, and she would do further research beyond your blog post, she will find reputable and informative facts out there from sources that might surprise her; sources that she might already get her own facts on things that SHE agrees with and believes as true. I think you boldly revealed what the Girl Scouts of America would rather us not know or realize about their organization. And, this is coming from a guy who had 3 daughters, a wife who was a leader and a mother-in-law dedicated to the Girls Scouts. But, its buyer beware; its not just Girl Scout cookies their selling.

  2. Throughout life children will hear opinions that may not align with my own. It is my role as a parent to research and/or reframe the information they gather. Our family serves as a filter, and as such my children’s exposure is not sensored.

    The materials seem to be avalible for preview, as well all parents are made aware of topics and encouraged to attend meetings ..
    I do not think that you contrived this information, but rather chose to focus on only “exposing” the politics…

    I choose to see the balace. Which is what distubred me about the post- there was only negative.

    There are good and wholesome factors- it is indisputable that there is value in the organizaiton. Dale, you stance is confusing. It seems you and your family saw enough appeal to allow 3 girls to be indoctrinated.

  3. I only wish I had more female children to enroll in the Girl Scouts. Nothing that Ms. Hasson has to say about GSUSA is objectionable to me at all. I want my daughter to know that she has the right to control her body. I want her to know that she is a valuable member of society no matter what sexual orientation she might choose. Thank God (literally) that there are organizations in today’s America that are defending (and yes, promoting) diversity in thought, in action, in personal relationships. Does GSUSA teach its members to be strong girls, to work for consensus, to love all members of society, to function both independently and cooperatively with men? That’s what I’m interested in supporting. That’s what it looks like they’re doing.
    So thanks for letting me know what the GSUSA are doing today. I had no idea it was such good work. Forget the cookies; I’ll be sending them a substantial amount from my account today!

  4. I certainly consider myself Conservative and a very very faithful Catholic, one of the previous commentors would probably consider me ‘right-wing.’ But I’m having a very hard time going along with the idea that all Girls Scout (the group not the girls) are a bad idea. I too am very concerned about the PP connection among many others. So concerned that before letting my girls join I called our state chapter (Utah) to talk with them about any such connections. Basically what I was told is that all the money raised or paid by the girls in Utah stays in Utah. And they do not allow any support of such groups mentioned in this article. They also told me they were not aware of any troop in Utah supporting any of these groups. We have several at our parish. They are all headed by a wonderful Catholic woman who also works at our local Catholic School. We pride ourselves in being very Orthodox in our Parish. Very pro-life. She too has never heard of any troop in Utah supporting or allowing support from any of these controversial groups. And she’s very well known in the scouts in Utah. I don’t see why we shouldn’t allow our daughters to be involved in scouts in states such as ours. When we were in TX I didn’t allow them to be in any troop at all! It was apparent some in TX think these things are ok and I wasn’t going to allow my daughter to be part of it in any way and have my money support anything I think is evil. I just think it would be far more helpful if articles such as yours state which states, councils or troops do such evil things as support groups that oppose many things many of us believe in instead of just making all GS organizations out to be terrible. Wouldn’t that be fair? For nearly an hour I’ve been searching for any site to say which groups do and which groups do not support PP in any form whatsoever. BTW, our registration fees go to our state, not the national organization. Not sure about any other state. But wouldn’t it be right to point out that some are worthy of participation?

    • Thanks for so much for your thoughtful comment. You certainly touched on the “pain point” for many families. A local troop leader may be terrific and your state councils may not promote direct connections or partnerships with Planned Parenthood or similar groups, so it would be natural to question whether you need to leave the organization.

      A few thoughts: the new ideology of the Girl Scouts (pro-abortion, pro-contraception, pro-LGBT) is transmitted not only through leaders, but also through many other avenues, from materials, resources, role models, recommended books, movies, websites, and authors, WAGGGS promotion (in nearly every book), convention speakers, and the international training programs offered through WAGGGS to older girls. While it’s great that many of the materials for the younger girls are free of problems, about 4th or 5th grade the problems start– just as most parents get a bit more lax about checking everything their child is reading, watching, etc.—especially if it comes recommended by a “good” source like the Girl Scouts. As parents, we simply don’t have time to check everything.

      Part of the problem, too, is that the reproductive rights message is being woven into other causes, like climate change. The Girl Scout books and projects are very tuned into climate change and being green—but that’s increasingly a cover to begin a conversation about population and reproductive rights. In November 2011, in the youth session at the UN Climate Change Conference, representatives of WAGGGS and the pro-abortion group Advocates for Youth presented a seminar called Sex, Justice, and Sustainability. Their point: climate change can’t be addressed without addressing population and health issues, i.e. promoting sex ed, contraception, and abortion.How long do you think it will it be before the WAGGGS reproductive-rights-approach-to-climate-change seeps into the Girl Scouts’ messaging on that issue? Not long, I suspect. Especially in light of the 2012 Girls World Forum that will be co-hosted by WAGGGS and the Girl Scouts in Chicago in July, focusing on the UN Millennium Development Goals (the goals include environmental sustainability and reproductive rights (abortion).

      The biggest problem I see, no matter how immune your local group seems to be from the problems, is one of identity. Isn’t the Girl Scouts’ left-wing ideology a growing part of the group’s identity now? So will your daughter identify as a Girl Scout—will she embrace the larger Girl Scout community and their agenda because of that strong emotional tie? If Planned Parenthood sponsored a soccer team in your town, would you want your kids playing for it? Would you want them to identify themselves, with pride, as part of that organization’s team? In the same way, if the Girl Scouts as a whole—on the national level and in local places as well—becomes identified with a pro-abortion, LGBT, “sexual rights” agenda, do you want your daughter to continue to identify with it? To proudly claim her membership in that “sisterhood” and all it stands for?

      Our country’s moral and political culture today is being driven by a pro-abortion faction that’s hostile to faith, conscience, and the Catholic Church in general. (The new HHS regs are a perfect example of their handiwork.) In this environment, no one will remain on the sidelines. We will have to choose—to stand up for life and to support traditional morality—even though it exacts personal cost. I think the Girl Scout issue is one more example of that. The organization has made its choice about which side it’s on. (Consider yesterday’s Girl Scout event with Kathleen Sebellius, Nancy Pelosi, and other pro-abortion female politicians). It will be impossible to stay neutral as they become more open about their ideology, even if that’s expressed mostly at a national level. Which side will you choose?

      • Wow! Thanks for doing the research on this topic. I’m going to share this information with others. Parents have a right to know what the Girl Scouts USA stands for and who’s calling the shots. Well done.

  5. I was an assistant to my daughter’s Troop Leader ten years ago. I saw some of this globalist left-leaning ideology entering the Girl Scouts myself.

  6. [Resending–mistyped my email address on first attempt.]

    What specifically do you mean by the term “globalist?” Are you implying that a globalist is also a leftist (whatever that might mean)? That’s what I implied from your comment and I don’t agree. Tell me a bit more.

  7. My 20 year old daughter spent 8 years in catechism and 13 years as a girl scout. She continues to find community service satisfying and rewarding and spends her summers and winter breaks volunteering with organization to help those in need. She has also become an atheist. Both organizations’ have left their mark and no doubt in my mind which one gets my support for young women.

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