Archdiocese of Kansas City Breaks Ties With Girl Scouts USA
Concern over materials and programs led to the decision. Now, scouting alternatives are being promoted.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced this week a halt to its involvement with Girl Scouts USA and an eventual transfer of support to alternative scouting programs.
“With the promotion by Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA) of programs and materials reflective of many of the troubling trends in our secular culture, they are no longer a compatible partner in helping us form young women with the virtues and value of the Gospel,” stated a May 1 announcement from Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas.
“I want to express my appreciation for the many extraordinary Girl Scout leaders of the archdiocese who have served so many so well. We look forward to having as many of them as are willing to join us in leadership roles as we take this new step,” he continued.
In January, Archbishop Naumann asked his parishes to begin transitioning support from Girl Scouts USA to alternate programs. This shift is becoming effective in the 2017-2018 kindergarten class throughout Kansas City Archdiocese parishes.
The American Heritage Girls, a group founded in 1995 with about 20,000 members nationwide, is the preferred alternative, as well as the Little Flowers Girls Club, a Catholic-based group in the U.S. and Canada.
“Pastors were given the choice of making this transition quickly, or to, over the next several years, ‘graduate’ the scouts currently in the program,” stated Archbishop Naumann.
“American Heritage Girls, a program based on Christian values, we believe, is a much better fit for our parishes.”
Over the past few years, Girl Scouts USA have made some controversial shifts in their program, including contributing to organizations that support Planned Parenthood and integrating questionable material into their books.
These changes have proved to be challenging for many organizations involved with GSUSA, including the Catholic Church. Other dioceses in the country have also distanced themselves from the Girl Scouts, including the Archdiocese of St. Louis in 2016.
“The decision to end our relationship with Girl Scouting was not an easy one,” Archbishop Naumann said.
Over the past 10 years, the Archdiocese of Kansas City has spent “hundreds of hours” researching the Girl Scout organization and spending time with current scouts and their families.
The archdiocese additionally delved into the many concerns raised by the “disturbing content in materials and resources developed and promulgated by the national organization.”
These concerns included having Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem as role models for the Girl Scouts, all of whom are known for their advocacy of both contraception and abortion.
Girl Scouts USA also contributes more than a million dollars annually to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), a lobby group that funds International Planned Parenthood.
There was another controversy with some material in the GSUSA “Journey” manual, in which the Archdiocese of Kansas City requested — and was granted — the removal of the questionable material. This included “several offensive and completely age-inappropriate role models.”
“It is disturbing that such an intervention on our part was necessary,” Archbishop Naumann noted.
“We prefer to partner with youth organizations that share our values and vision for youth ministry, not ones that we have to monitor constantly to protect our children from being misled and misinformed,” he continued.
“To follow Jesus and his Gospel will often require us to be countercultural,” the Kansas City archbishop said.
“Our greatest responsibility as a Church is to the children and young people in our care. … It is essential that all youth programs at our parishes affirm virtues and values consistent with the Catholic faith.”