La. Girl Scout leaders combat rumors behind cookie boycott

It’s the season for thin mints, tagalongs and samoas, but south Louisiana Girl Scouts are finding they sometimes have to combat rumors that have nothing to do with selling the tasty treats.

Claims seem to surface every year when the Girl Scouts embark on their fundraising drive that the organization has ties to Planned Parenthood and promotes abortion.

It’s just not so, said Marianne Addy, vice president of communications and marketing for Girl Scouts of Louisiana East, which represents troops in southeast Louisiana, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans.

Addy sent out a news release Wednesday disputing comments made by the organizer of the most recent “cookie boycott,” a group called Pro-Life Waco.

The Girl Scouts don’t take a position on pro-life or pro-choice and don’t have a relationship with Planned Parenthood, Addy said.

However, every year around cookie season which ends mid-March, there seems to be accusations to that effect. “It’s gotten more traction with social media,” she said. “It’s a shame we’re having to defend ourselves.”

The Girl Scouts teach young women things like fairness, courtesy and leadership, Addy said, while believing that matters involving sexuality should be discussed within the family.

She said the Girl Scouts don’t believe the cookie sales will suffer that much, “It’s more a matter of principle that they’re saying things that aren’t true.”

John Pisciotta, director of the Pro-Life Waco group that is organizing the national cookie boycott, said if experience is any teacher the Girl Scouts likely see their sales go up as “people on the other side” buy more cookies than they would ordinarily.

Pisciotta said that’s what happened with a more local effort that targeted Waco, Texas, in a previous cookie boycott in 2004.

That said, Pisciotta said the cookie boycott campaign is a way to get information out to the public about the Girl Scouts and the group has developed their own flier outlining some of those points. “We stand on every word that is in that flier,” he said.

One of the accusations in the flier is that local Girl Scout councils “honor and promote abortion rights advocates and pro-abortion politicians.”

“What they claim to be and what their words and actions and tweets reveal are very different things,” he said.

For example, he said, there have been Girl Scout statements of support for Sen. Wendy Davis, who filibustered an attempt to pass a more restrictive abortion bill in Texas and U.S. Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. These are just two recent examples, he said, of Girl Scouts promoting role models who are “pro-abortion,” he said.

The Girl Scout council leadership sent out an email about a month ago to members to respond to some of the group’s allegations, saying the Girl Scouts have no relationship with Planned Parenthood, don’t take positions on issues like abortion or birth control and have a good relationship with many faith organizations, including the Catholic Church.

Addy said they’ll occasionally get contacted by volunteers or families wondering about things they’ve heard or seen dealing with the allegations and it was decided to give people a handy flier to address some of the accusations. “We want the facts out there. We are not who they are portraying us to be,” Addy said.