Scout’s honor

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Bob Morris became a member of the Indiana House long after I retired as editorial page editor of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. If I’d been around when he was elected, I no doubt would have met and interviewed him. His photograph in the papers show him to be a decent enough fellow. Honestly, I don’t think he’s been a stand-out leader even in our own area of Indiana where he’s from.
By now, though, people in the state and lots more around the country probably know Rep. Morris. He was the only member who declined to vote for a resolution in March congratulating the Girl Scouts on their 100th birthday. He complained that the Girl Scouts had become a “radicalized organization” that supports abortion and promotes homosexuality. That was news to the Girl Scouts.
Fellow Republican and House Speaker Brian Bosma responded to Morris’ stance by passing out Girl Scout cookies to other members from the speaker’s platform. I guess that’s one way colleagues can distance themselves from Morris. Even funny. I doubt the Girl Scouts are laughing, though.
First, if you visit the GSA web site, you won’t find a whisper about abortion or homosexuality. This is a pretty mainstream, avoid needless controversy bunch of folk. As one Girl Scout leader in northern Indiana noted that official policy is to encourage parents to handle sex and reproductive questions. Nor does
the organization have any partnership with Planned Parenthood, despite claims on web sites that Morris apparently visited. Denver Bishop James Conley claims that the Girl Scouts are “more receptive to the pro-abortion agenda.”
Granted, the organization does have an agenda. It teaches the girls about protecting the environment. It alerts them about the dangers of the internet. It encourages them to think about careers in math, engineering and the sciences. It helps them learn how to get along with others. Pretty radical stuff. Clearly, the Girl Scouts have been a powerful influence in the lives of countless women – on the order of 50 million since its found in 1912 by a saint of a lady named Juliette Gordon Low.
What I know firsthand about the Girl Scouts I learned from my first wife Wanda, long deceased. She often spoke of the lifelong friends Liz and Pat she developed around the campfire, singing the old camp songs and playing games. She collected numerous merit badges for sewing and cooking and personal development, a big focus of the program in those years. She gave the Girl Scouts much credit for success as a scholar and mother. She was valedictorian of her high school class, salutatorian of her college class. She won state recognition in speech competition. Thank the Girl Scouts, she used to say.
Two-thirds of the female members of Congress were Girl Scouts, who today a boast an alumnae of 50 million. Today’s membership is about 3.2 million girls.
You’d like to think members of a state legislature would check out all the facts before taking a stand on any issue. Having written editorials for more than a quarter century, I know better. Of course, maybe Rep. Morris did take a peek at the Girl Scouts web site and even spoke to parents whose daughters were scouts, now busy selling the cookies. Whatever investigation he conducted on his own, he managed not only to embarrass himself. He missed a very inspiring story.

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