Girl Scouts Back Away From Pledge Committing Scouts to Lobby for Global Warming Legislation

February 11, 2011 - 9:51 AM

girl scouts

As part of its 'Power of Girls' pledge, Girl Scouts promise to "take action, locally and globally, to make the world a better place for girls." A separate pledge, now removed from the Girl Scouts' Web site, said girls should urge elected officials "to support legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and promotes energy efficiency and renewable technologies.” (Photo from the GSUSA Web site)

(CNSNews.com) The Girl Scouts of the United States of America has launched a campaign called Forever Green that included an online pledge girls could sign, promising they would encourage public officials to pass emissions-reducing legislation.

But after CNSNews.com asked the organization about the political advocacy on Tuesday, the pledge was removed from the Girl Scouts’ Web site. The language should not have been so “inflammatory,” one official said.

One of the tenets of the pledge was to, “Inform my elected local, state, and federal officials about my views on environmental policies and urge them to support legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions and promotes energy efficiency and renewable technologies.”

A posting on a Girl Scouts website encouraged the families and friends of scouts to join in taking the pledge.

The Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) developed the campaign with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But Michelle Tompkins, a spokeswoman for the national office of the Girl Scouts of the USA, told CNSNews.com the pledge was not a case of the organization aligning itself with the Obama administration.

“The pledge shown on our Web site is just…to show girls a possible way of advocacy, and there will not be – we won’t take sides either way on this matter,” she said.

Tompkins later provided a written statement from the Washington, D.C., office of the Girl Scouts of the USA, stating: “We have never and do not plan to take a position as an organization on carbon emissions-reducing legislation.”

On its Forever Green Web page, however, the Girl Scouts invited readers to “join us in  taking the Girl Scouts Forever Green Pledge,” saying that “everyone is encouraged to participate – friends, families, schoolmates and members of the community.”

After speaking with CNSNews.com, the organization removed the pledge from its Web site and replaced it with a “Coming Soon!” message.

Asked why, Tompkins said she didn’t know “how inflammatory” the language was until CNSNews.com asked about it.

“I didn’t know that this language existed until you and a couple other media outfits brought it to my attention on Tuesday. I didn’t realize how inflammatory it was, and I talked to our D.C. team and it doesn’t reflect what we’re doing,” she said.

“While we still will have the pledge, it needs to be the correct language and be properly vetted through the folks at Girl Scouts.”

Overall, GSUSA describes its Forever Green program as a “national effort of girls leading their families, schools, and communities in improving the environment and protecting natural resources.”

Asked whether the revised pledge would request that girls support specific legislation, Tompkins said “no.”

“We’ll ask girls to examine things—both sides of things—but there won’t be any siding with one side or another, and (the pledge) didn’t reflect the way that both GSUSA communications and our D.C. team, which is the public policy and advocacy—it didn’t reflect what we’ve been trying to get across as an organization.”

It appears that some Girl Scouts already signed the original pledge when they registered with the national Forever Green program.

For example, Daisy Troop 52001 in Colorado chose to focus on energy conservation. Project coordinator Kim J. Davis wrote, “Each of the girls is committing to have a ‘Lights Out’ evening with their families in April, and then bringing the results to our troop meeting. They have all signed the forever Green pledge and are very excited about it.”

The ‘Lights Out’ evening is a version of ‘Earth Hour,’ during which Girl Scouts are asked to turn off their lights between 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. on the last Saturday of March.

“Lights Out” is one of three options the national organization has presented to local Girl Scout troops as a way to start their green efforts. GSUSA also offers the option of reducing plastic waste by using and promoting reusable bags and water bottles.

The third option is to construct a “rain garden” in their community, on school grounds, or at home. A rain garden is planted on a downgrade to capture runoff water. In addition to those three options, “Participants are also encouraged to take an Online Pledge stating their yearlong commitment” to Forever Green efforts.

According to its mission statement, “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.”

Through its Public Policy and Advocacy Office in Washington, the organization says it works to "build strong relationships with Members of Congress, as well as with officials at the White House and federal departments and agencies. Through our advocacy efforts, we inform and educate key representatives of the government's legislative and executive branches about issues important to girls and Girl Scouting and lobby for increased program resources."

That Public Policy and Advocacy Web page features a photo of national Girl Scouting officials standing with First Lady Michelle Obama.