Were Planned Parenthood Brochures Distributed to Girl Scouts at the United Nations?

Two right-wing anti-abortion groups accused the Girl Scouts of aligning itself with reproductive and sexual rights in 2010, using right-wing disinformation-aligned blogs to amplify their claims — which continued to reverberate for years afterward.

The accusation originated in the Daily Caller blog through a post by Sharon Slater, head of the anti-reproductive rights group Family Watch International. She wrote:

I was asked to leave a closed-door, “girls only” meeting sponsored by the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA). As soon as the meeting ended, I entered the room, and from a stack on the back table, picked up a booklet, “Healthy, Happy, and Hot,” produced by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). I was stunned as I flipped through the pages.

Slater claimed that she was offended that the pamphlet promoted the idea that “there are lots of different ways to have sex.” In reality, the passage in question also promoted mutual consent between partners — a fact Slater omitted from her blog post:

Many people think sex is just about vaginal or anal intercourse… but there are lots of different ways to have sex and lots of different types of sex. Sex can include kissing, touching, licking, tickling, sucking, and cuddling. Some people like to have aggressive sex, while others like to have soft and slow sex with their partners. There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself, as long as all parties agree!

As the Southern Poverty Law Center reported, Slater has pushed on campaigns against both reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights both in the U.S. and abroad:

… It’s at the U.N. where Slater wields most of her influence as well as in Africa — where she claims to stand alongside indigenous African activists against the moral imperialism of Western countries. “I commend you for standing up against the attempts by Western countries to impose their radical sexual agenda on your nations,” she told the audience in 2011 at a Nigerian Bar Association conference, where she was the keynote speaker. “No country has the right to impose their sexual ideologies and corrupted values on other nations.”

Throughout her speech, Slater insisted that homosexuals and transgender people were not protected by human rights statutes — nor should they be in the future. Member states, she told the government leaders, activists, and lawmakers in the audience should challenge those who tell them they are “obligated to promote and protect fictitious sexual rights.”

Slater’s claim was amplified in a separate post published by a separate “religious” group, the Center for Family & Human Rights. That group, much like Slater’s organization, would go on to attempt a right-wing power grab abroad, alongside similar-minded “pro-life” groups. As The Daily Beast reported in 2017:

At the UN, these groups have formed an unholy alliance with the likes of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Pakistan, and several African nations to advance a radical “family” agenda that favors what they call the “natural family” and denies any recognition to everyone else: single-parent families, LGBT people, and, most of all, women. Last year, these 25 countries formed an umbrella, the Group of Friends of the Family (GoFF).

The ironies are rich. The same right-wing that ostensibly opposes the United Nations and long railed against Russia is now firmly embedded within both. Although allied with various anti-Muslim preachers in the United States, these groups are cozying up to Iran. And although preaching “religious liberty” in the U.S., they are allied with some of the world’s worst oppressors of Christians and other religious minorities at the UN.

A spokesperson for the Girl Scouts of the USA refuted Slater’s allegation to us in a statement:

Last year, Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) was honored to attend and participate in the 54th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, where girls were encouraged to take action on global issues concerning women and girls. Our participation in that conference was recently the subject of numerous internet stories and blogs that are factually inaccurate and troubling. Here are the facts of that meeting:

  • The Girls Only Workshop was jointly hosted by Girl Scouts of the USA, UNICEF’s Working Group on Girls, Girls Learn International and The Grail. The meeting was only open to the girls and participating sponsors.

  • Only seven adults were in the room at the time of the meeting, each representing one of the sponsors of the event. No one from Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute was in the room to report on the event.

  • Thirty-to-thirty-five girls from across the world participated in this event. All teenagers.

  • The girls received a copy of the only document they were working on titled (“The Girls’ Statement”). No other documents were given to the girls as part of this event.

  • The room in question was also used to host other events over the course of the ulti-day conference. Prior to our girls entering the room, we did not “sanitize’ the room to ensure that no trash or other items were left behind. We did request that those not associated with the sponsors leave the room prior to our session.

  • The Girl Scouts of the USA was not contacted by Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM) regarding its initial story to discuss the facts of this event. Had they applied these basic journalistic standards, perhaps the true details of this event would have been reported. Our Mission in Girl Scouting is to build girls of courage, confidence and character – who make the world a better place. We continue to be proud of our girls and look forward to showing the world what our girls can do. We thank everyone for their support of Girl Scouting.

Since then, the Girl Scouts and their member groups have repeatedly pointed out that they have no relationship with Planned Parenthood.

Update 12/1/2021, 7:30pm PST: This article has been revamped and updated. You can review the original here. -ag