State Representative Bob Morris of Fort Wayne recently managed to get himself in the news by refusing to sign on to an otherwise routine resolution celebrating the Girl Scouts’ 100th Anniversary on the grounds that the group was a “radicalized organization.” Representative Morris claimed that, “After talking to some well-informed constituents, I did a small amount of web-based research, and what I found is disturbing.”
Representative Morris went on to allege that the Girl Scouts are a “tactical arm” of Planned Parenthood and that the group promotes “homosexual lifestyles.”
As Indiana once again found itself the butt of jokes across the Nation, Representative Morris apologized for the “tone” of his remarks while standing behind their core. Morris stated that he was wrong to have, “painted the entire Girl Scouts organization with such a wide brush,” but stood by his criticism of the national leadership and said his daughters would be joining American Heritage Girls, a Girl Scout knock-off organization that states its mission as, “building women of integrity through service to God, family, community and country.”
Indiana Right to Life then sprung up and grabbed their shovels.
In a press release, Indiana Right to Life pointed attention to Anne Reece, who in 2009 was posthumously awarded a Lifetime Contribution Award from the Bloomington, Indiana Commission of the Status of Women. Indiana Right to Life offered up a line from a brief biography of Ms. Reece which stated, “Anne’s career started with Planned Parenthood in Bloomington where she worked for many years as a health and sexuality educator, and helped initiate the Family Life Education program for Girl Scouts ages five to 18 throughout a twelve-county area,” as proof of a relationship between Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts.
Anne Reece left her position with Planned Parenthood in 1983 after working there twelve years to take a position with Indiana University. She had started volunteering with the Girl Scouts in 1982 but that volunteerism was separate from her employment. She continued to work for IU until she retired as Director of Health and Wellness at the IU Health Clinic.
The Girl Scouts’ Family Life Education program “provided age-appropriate information to girls about their maturing bodies and factual answers to their sensitive questions.” Before any Scout could participate in this program the Troop Leader had to “obtain explicit parental permission.” If that permission was not received then that Scout couldn’t participate in the program.
As Republican Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma, tried damage control by passing out Thin Mints on the Statehouse floor, local Right Wingers have sided with Bob Morris, bringing up discredited charges that the Girl Scouts passed out explicit material obtained from Planned Parenthood at a U.N. Conference of the Status of Women and condemning the group for “admitting” that it partners with “many organizations, including Planned Parenthood” in order “to bring information-based sex education programs to girls.”
Anne Reece’s 2008 obituary read, in part, “She was a generous, open-hearted, deeply affectionate and entirely nonjudgmental person. In everything she did, both in her work and also in her very full and affectionate personal and family life, she was persevering, thorough and rigorously conscientious. Her life was informed by profound intellectual and moral beliefs and commitment to her profession and to strengthening of family and community life through education and life” but of course this wasn’t about Anne Reece, it is about the Right Wing’s demonization of Planned Parenthood and organizations that associate with Planned Parenthood and the Right Wing’s fear and repugnance over the idea of strong, confident, well-informed women.
As Bloomington’s Democratic Mayor Mark Kruzan offered his opinion that the people criticizing the Girl Scouts are, “zealots with too much free time on their hands and too little common sense in their heads,” the Girl Scouts carried on doing what Girl Scouts do. To celebrate their 100th Anniversary local Girl Scouts exceeded their goal of providing 615 hours of community service in a single day; decorating 510 lunch sacks for the Area 10 Agency on Aging’s Senior Nutrition program, fabricating 543 puppy toys and 188 catnip toys for the local Humane Society shelter, knitted three hats for homeless people at the Shalom Center and created 121 hand-tied fleece blankets for children which they distributed to the American Red Cross, to the Middle Way House, a local domestic violence shelter and to Hannah’s House, a local organization that provides housing and services for pregnant teens.