Sunday, October 29, 2000

Girl Scout cookies and tattoos

        Calling Boy Scouts a “hate group” is as weird as saying motherhood is deviant and apple pie is a carcinogen. But get used to it.

        The ACLU, some United Way chapters and cities such as Fort Lauderdale, Fla. are punishing the Boy Scouts for rejecting homosexual Scout leaders. In the warped logic of political correctitude, the Scouts are “bigots” for winning a Supreme Court battle.

        But in the real world, the Scouts deserve a merit badge for courage.

        “We haven't lost any financial support. Only one family took their two sons out of our program,” said John Young,
Dan Beard Council Scout Executive. All local United Way chapters have stood by the Scouts, he said, and reports of a pro-gay “backlash” are exaggerated. Among 1,400 United Ways nationwide, only seven cut off funds after the court decision, he said.

        Good news for Girl Scouts, right? Maybe not.

        The Girl Scouts have taken a different trail through the swamp. They abandoned the word “God” in their oath in 1993, while the Boy Scouts fought to keep it. And they allow gay leaders.

        “It is not taught, and not endorsed,” said Kim Danker, public relations director for the Great Rivers Girl Scout Council. “We don't endorse any particular lifestyle, nor do we reject any particular lifestyle.”

        She said lesbian leaders are no problem as long as “they are not showing any personal lifestyle or preference, and not getting girls over to the other side, so to speak.”

        Patti Garibay, who “bled green” as a Girl Scout leader for 13 years, thinks that attitude has ruined the Girl Scouts. “I really feel that people are blindly putting their kids in an organization that's not healthy,” she said.

        Mrs. Garibay, who founded American Heritage Girls, now with 1,200 members, insisted she's not promoting her more church-based organization. “It's just hard to keep quiet.”

        The Girl Scouts won't take part in the Boy Scouts' annual food and clothing drive this year. American Heritage Girls will take their place. Mrs. Garibay suspects the Supreme Court decision was to blame. But Ms. Danker said, “We would never do something like that.” Girl Scout troops just want to do other projects, she said. Mr. Young hopes the change won't hurt the drive.

        Mrs. Garibay also wants to warn parents that the Girl Scouts are leaving mothers behind, while recruiting younger single women. An Enquirer story last Sunday told how a Georgia troop's posters show Scouts with green hair and tattoos. “We're not your mother's Girl Scout troop,” National Girl Scouts Director Marty Evans has said.

        “That bothers me,” Mrs. Garibay said. “There's nothing wrong with moms. The Girl Scouts don't value any of the wholesome traditions anymore — God, family, country. Their view of sex is that there is no deviancy, just a spectrum of expressions.”

        On the Great Rivers Council website, a letter from the executive director lists “gender, sexual identity” among emotional development issues.

        I doubt that local Girls Scouts are overrun with lesbian leaders. But what's up with that? Why should parents trust some 20-something volunteer to guide their daughters through the “sexual identity” woods?

        “We know those are issues girls face as they get older. Generally, they should be faced within the family unit,” Ms. Danker said.

        I'm glad gender and sexual identity never came up while I was a scout leader.

        But that's Cincinnati, where people who call Boy Scouts a “hate group” still sound like lunatics, and where ads showing tattooed Girls Scouts “probably will never be seen in this community,” said Ms. Danker.

        One more reason to love Cincinnati.

        is editorial page editor of The Enquirer. If you have questions or comments, call (513) 768-8301, or write to 312 Elm Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202.


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