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Our Beliefs

GSSWT has a long and proud history of serving girls throughout the region. Girl Scouts has a reputation of being the best leadership development organization with an outstanding record of community service and programs for girls. The organization is able to accomplish this with the help of exceptional adult volunteers, alumnae, supporters and friends. It is out of respect to the nearly 30,000 members in Southwest Texas that the record is set straight.

In some areas of the country, Girl Scout troops or groups may choose to hold discussions about human sexuality and/or pregnancy prevention and may choose to collaborate with a local organization that specializes in these issues. Participation in these discussions is optional, and parental consent must be provided prior to a girl’s participation. However, please consider that the Southwest Texas region has among the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the nation and for girls in some communities, it would be appropriate for them to receive pregnancy prevention education from a factual perspective in Girl Scouts. 

Girl Scouts of the USA is an organization whose membership represents a cross-section of America. Girls and families hold various religious beliefs and opinions on social issues and practices. As a result, GSUSA does not have a position on specific issues such as abortion and contraception. Rather,  GSUSA recognizes and supports the primacy of parents as they educate their daughters with regard to human sexuality and pregnancy prevention.

This policy is not new. Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas affirms that parents/guardians may be certain their daughters will not be exposed to information on these topics that they don’t want them to have, and it is unfair to expect an organization as large and diverse as Girl Scouts to take on the role of parents and/or religious organizations.

The mission of Girl Scouting is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place, and the organization will never shy from its duty or waver from its commitment to be an advocate for all girls.

Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas (GSSWT), headquartered in San Antonio, is aware of recent communications via email, blog posts, etc., that are critical of Girl Scouts of the USA and continue to share misinformation about the Girl Scout Movement. The inaccurate information is most prevalent during the iconic Girl Scout Cookie Program when awareness of the organization is at its highest and is focused on the Movement’s alleged relationship with Planned Parenthood USA.

Frequently Asked Questions: Social Issues
What is GSUSA's position regarding human sexuality, birth control and abortion?

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) does not take a position or develop materials on these issues. We feel our role is to help girls develop self-confidence and good decision-making skills that will help them make wise choices in all areas of their lives.

Parents or guardians make all decisions regarding program participation that may be of a sensitive nature. Consistent with that belief, GSUSA directs councils, including volunteer leaders, to get written parental permission for any locally planned program that could be considered sensitive.

Does GSUSA have a relationship with Planned Parenthood?

No, Girl Scouts of the USA does not have a relationship or partnership with Planned Parenthood.

Did GSUSA distribute a Planned Parenthood brochure at a United Nations event?

No, we did not. In 2010, GSUSA took part in the 54th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. Our participation in that conference was the subject of numerous Internet stories and blogs that were factually inaccurate and troubling. Girl Scouts had no knowledge of the brochure in question and played no role in distributing it.

Did GSUSA send a tweet in support of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, suggesting she be considered for Woman of the Year?

Girl Scouts has not endorsed any person or organization. This confusion stems from an autopopulated tweet linking to an article that mentioned newsmakers from 2013. The tweet simply asked folks to share their opinions about which women should be added to a year-end discussion originated by the Huffington Post.

GSUSA’s Twitter bio states that a retweet does not equal an endorsement. The sharing of the article was not to endorse any of the women featured, but to highlight the source's acknowledgement of women who made a mark in 2013.

Girl Scouting aims to empower all girls to have the courage to make their voices heard and welcome respectful discourse about what qualities a woman of the year should have. GSUSA issued an apology on the Girl Scout Blog, which can be read here.

Why were Girl Scouts pictured in a photograph with State Sen. Wendy Davis in the San Antonio Express-News?

On Friday, Feb. 14, 2014 the San Antonio Express-News published a story about gubernatorial candidate and state senator Wendy Davis discussing her proposal to improve early childhood education at Leal Middle School in Harlandale Independent School District. Davis is pictured with a group of Gamma Sigma Pearls wearing their Girl Scout t-shirts in the accompanying photograph, which is an implied endorsement. 

Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas did not host, sponsor, endorse, nor have prior knowledge of the event. Girls attended in their capacity as students of Leal, who also happen to be Gamma Sigma Pearls. We consider the use of this photograph by the Express-News to be inappropriate in light of the controversy that is having a negative impact on innocent girls who are in the community selling cookies. We have since asked the newspaper to print a clarification of the photo’s context.

Where exactly do proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie Program go?

One hundred percent of the money that a council and its troops raise through the Girl Scout Cookie Program stays with that council and its troops. All of the revenue from cookie activities—every penny after paying the baker—stays with the Girl Scout council. Girl Scout councils offer a wide variety of recognition items, program- and store-related credits and travel experiences that girls are eligible to earn individually based on their sales. Girl Scout councils do not provide any portion of their cookie revenue to Girl Scouts of the USA. 

What is Girl Scouts’ process for reviewing materials?

Girl Scouts constantly reviews our materials based on feedback and suggestions we receive from our members, and we update our materials on a regular basis. As a result of this process, upcoming reprints of Journeys materials will not include playwright Josefina Lopez or links to the Women’s Media Center or Media Matters. Councils will be notified of changes that are made in the future, and information on changes will be posted on our corporate website. We also are making changes on our corporate website to ensure appropriateness of content.

It is important to note that our materials feature more than 200 women and girls from many walks of life who have worked to make a difference in the world, and while we may not agree with the opinion of everyone featured, we believe they embody the commitment to leadership that we strive to teach our girls.

What is Girl Scouts’ position on serving transgender youth?

Girl Scouts is proud to be the premiere leadership organization for girls in the country. While we do allow men to participate in our program as volunteers and staff members, the program is developed specifically for girls. GSSWT has not had cause to address the issue of accommodating transgender youth. The organization remains focused on providing a quality leadership experience for all girls in grades K-12 and believes there are other organizations better suited to provide a leadership experience for boys. Acceptance of transgender youth is handled on a case-by-case basis, with the welfare and best interests of the child and the members of the troop/group in question a top priority.

Does Girl Scouting support families of faith?

Yes. Girl Scouting supports girls from all backgrounds and beliefs. While we are a secular organization that refrains from teaching religious or spiritual beliefs or practices, we believe that the motivating force in Girl Scouting is a spiritual one, and we greatly value our longstanding partnerships with religious organizations across many faiths that share the values of the Girl Scout Promise and Law. 

We encourage girls to develop connections to their own spiritual and religious beliefs by earning recognitions provided by their faith communities and by earning the new My Promise, My Faith pin, which helps a girl deepen the connection between the Girl Scout Law and her faith. GSSWT has partnered  with the Archdiocese of San Antonio to create and support the earning of six more religious awards for the Catholic community that are only available in our 21-county service area.

Girl Scouts welcomes faith leaders to verify that program delivered to girls in their places of worship is consistent with their faith’s teachings.

What is GSUSA’s relationship with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS)?

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) comprises 145 member organizations that promote mutual understanding and cross-cultural opportunities for girls around the world. Girl Scouts of the USA is one of the 145 member organizations.

Each member organization creates its own programs and pursues advocacy efforts based on the needs and issues affecting girls in its individual country. GSUSA does not always take the same positions or endorse the same programs as WAGGGS. GSUSA's relationship with WAGGGS is akin to the United States’ relationship with the United Nations (UN). The United States may not agree with every position the UN takes, but values having a seat at the table.

Does GSUSA have a financial relationship with WAGGGS?

Every Girl Scout and Girl Guide organization is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts—and each Member Organization, including Girl Scouts of the USA, pays dues. WAGGGS operates in much the same way as the United Nations: Each Member Organization pays dues based on the size of its membership and the per capita income of the country in which the organization resides.

Are girl membership dues used to pay the WAGGGS quota? Membership dues from girls and from adults are not used to pay the WAGGGS quota. All dues collected from Girl Scout members are used to pay for services that directly impact the development and delivery of Girl Scouting to girls in the USA and girls who are involved in USA Girl Scouts Overseas, our program that brings Girl Scouting to American families who live and work abroad.

Is any money from Girl Scout cookie activities used to pay the WAGGGS quota?

No, all of the money from Girl Scout cookie activities stays at councils. The national funds that GSUSA sends to WAGGGS come solely from investment income.

Are girls individual members of WAGGGS?

No, individual girls are not members of WAGGGS. Girl Scouts of the USA is a Member Organization of WAGGGS.

Do girls have to wear a WAGGGS pin?

Girls wear the WAGGGS pin to represent their connection to the worldwide sisterhood of Girl Scouting and Girl Guiding. For a girl to be in uniform, the only requirement is that she wears her Girl Scout pin.

Additional questions and/or concerns may be directed to

What corrective actions is GSUSA taking regarding palm oil, cacao beans and the production of Girl Scout Cookies?

Child labor has NO place in Girl Scout Cookie production. Our investment in the development of our world's youth must not be facilitated by the under-development of some. If certain suppliers are not following ethical practices, we expect our bakers and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to take action quickly to rectify those exceptions. These complex and hugely important issues require the cooperation of many parties to solve. Girl Scouts of the USA has and continues to work with Girl Scout Cookie bakers to increase the transparency, sustainability and ethical behavior of our production lines and sourcing. GSUSA is also an affiliate member of RSPO.

Palm oil is an ingredient found in the majority of baked snacks sold in the United States. GSUSA's licensed bakers tell us it continues to be necessary to use palm oil in our cookies to ensure their shelf life, to bring you the highest quality products, and to serve as an alternative to trans fats. The world’s food supply is intricately tied to the use of palm oil, so we believe promoting proper manufacturing principles is the most responsible approach to how Girl Scouts and Girl Scout Cookie development is advanced. While we continue to explore other alternatives, at this time, there are no viable or readily available alternatives on the market.

Regarding cacao beans, our licensed baker continues to work with their primary chocolate suppliers and with the Chocolate Manufacturer's Association (CMA)—which both licensed bakers of Girl Scout Cookies are members of—on issues of slavery and abusive child labor as they relate to the production and purchase of chocolate. The chocolate suppliers and the CMA strongly condemn the use of slavery and abusive labor practices. Their goal is to support the governments and advocacy groups that will make a difference in the lives of the cacao farmers, as well as to give assurances to consumers that the cocoa has been farmed under appropriate working conditions.