Girls Scouts and A Politically-Incorrect T-Shirt
Several news sources not in the mainstream media carried a story on January 9, 2012, about a Girl Scout staff member who stopped in the Tucson, Arizona, office to pick up materials on her day off to prepare for a meeting.
Renise Rodriguez was dressed casually, but was startled when a supervisor took exception to the t-shirt she was wearing and told her – twice – that if she was going to stay in the office she needed to turn the t-shirt inside-out, the standard request in schools to prevent the message on it from being seen. The shirt had a beautiful picture and the words “Pray to End Abortion.” She did not comply and has resigned.
Is that the standard practice? To be specific, would that happen in a Girl Scout office near you? There are reports of specific Girl Scout councils having partnerships with Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest single provider of abortions, so there is of course reason to wonder about possible bias against a pro-life point of view. However, that doesn’t say that such viewpoint discrimination would happen anywhere else.
To verify that such viewpoint discrimination would NOT happen in Rochester, NY, we sent an e-mail to the website of Girl Scouts of Western New York.
Here is the exchange.
Anne LeBlanc sent a message with a question and a few paragraphs from the news story:
Message: Would this happen at GSWNY? Would the staffer be asked to turn her shirt inside-out?
An employee of the Girl Scouts in Arizona has resigned after expression of her pro-life beliefs was squelched.
Renise Rodriguez, 21, is a religious studies major at the University of Arizona in Tucson and, until just recently, was an employee for the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. Bryan Kemper, youth outreach director of Priests for Life, tells OneNewsNow that Rodriguez often wears one of their T-shirts to express her pro-life beliefs — and that that got her in hot water with her employer last week.
“She went in to work, off duty, to pick up a few things and was told immediately by somebody in the Girl Scouts office to take her shirt off, and that if she was going to stay in the office at all she’d have to turn it inside out,” he explains.
The shirt Rodriguez was wearing displayed the message “Pray to End Abortion.”
A very prompt reply came from Trina Tardone, Senior Vice President of Comunications for GSWNY.
The Girl Scout national organization, Girl Scouts of the United States of America (GSUSA), and the Girl Scout local organization, Girl Scouts of Western New York (GSWNY), do not have any national collaboration or relationship with organizations that are political, religious or issues oriented, nor do we provide any financial support or endorse such organizations that advocate on related issues. We leave such issues up to the families. Thank you for your comment and inquiry. Best, Trina
Wow, Trina, that was a speedy reply!
However, I’m still not sure whether a staffer in Buffalo or Rochester voicing her opinion respectfully by wearing a t-shirt would be treated the same way Renise was. Can you tell me?
The response came back:
What I can tell you is we encourage all girls to reach their full potential.
If you would like to talk with someone regarding more local attitudes that might affect your daughter’s troop or division here in the Rochester area, there is contact information on the website of Girl Scouts of Western New York, at http://www.gswny.org/pages/Location.aspx , with phone numbers for the service centers in Buffalo, Batavia, Jamestown, Lockport, and Rochester.
Perhaps this incident suggests reasons for the success of American Heritage Girls, an organization founded by Patti Garibay out of her concern with the direction being taken by Girl Scouts on topics relevant to the bedrock of belief for many parents.
The link American Heritage Girls gives information on where they have troops.
“We have over 17,000 members, and the Lord has brought that through 16 years of growing,” Garibay credits. “And now we’re ready to really grow and to let families all over the country know that there is an organization where you can enjoy the activities of scouting, but still be in line with your family’s values.”
Pro-life college student quits job with Girl Scounts over ‘end abortion’ t-shirt
Girl Scouts quash pro-lifer
A ‘Christ-centered’ alternative
January 13, 2012