The Girl Scouts’ Allegedly Radical Feminist Lesbian Agenda

From Slate Magazine:

What conservative Christian rumors about the group get wrong—and right.

By Amanda Marcotte
Posted Thursday, Sept. 15, 2011

Most of us, if pressed to think about the Girl Scouts, conjure up images of girlish innocence: summer camp, volunteerism, and, of course, cookies. A small but growing segment of the public, however, has started to think of the Girl Scouts in far darker terms.

More than a decade ago, Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review wrote: “The Girl Scouts’ leaders hope to make their youthful charges the shock troops of an ongoing feminist revolution.” A number of prominent voices on the Christian right went on to join her in sounding an alarm about the organization, accusing it of religious and sexual subversion. Cathy Ruse of the Family Research Council alleged that the organization is “pushing promiscuous sex on the girls.” Bob Knight, while working for Concerned Women for America, accused the Girl Scouts of drifting into “radical feminism,” and while the word “witchcraft” has yet to be trotted out, popular right wing website WorldNetDaily has accused the Girl Scouts of promoting “lesbianism” and “paganism.”

For years, such suspicions swirled in a disorganized cloud, until in the spring of 2010, they coalesced around an urban legend that the Girl Scouts were working with Planned Parenthood to secretly distribute sex manuals to young girls. Wendy Wright, also of CWA, was one of those who promoted the fast-spreading tale, writing on CWA’s website that “the group hosted a ‘no adults allowed’ meeting at the United Nations (U.N.) where a graphic sex guide was distributed.” The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute was also instrumental in promoting the story, insinuating that the Girl Scouts were using a Planned Parenthood brochure to promote casual sex and to encourage HIV-positive people to conceal their status from sex partners.

Planned Parenthood and the United Nations hijacking a girl’s organization to encourage orgiastic behavior? If the story had been generated by a computer programmed to push right-wing buttons it could hardly have been better suited to the task. And yet these critics aren’t entirely wrong to perceive the group as a feminist organization, however mild and mainstream its strain of feminism may be, or to perceive the group as comparatively forward-looking (something that’s obvious when you contrast the group, both now and historically, with the Boy Scouts). Since their founding, the Girl Scouts have taken the well-being of girls as their mission, and they lobby to this end both nationally and internationally. So even as specific accusations against the group are spurious, it makes a certain amount sense that the group’s conservative Christian critics, who value traditional gender roles, would oppose an organization that takes female equality as a given.

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