Last week, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute claimed that during the annual United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, the “World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides hosted a no-adults-welcome panel at the United Nations this week where Planned Parenthood was allowed to distribute a brochure entitled ‘Healthy, Happy and Hot'”:
The brochure, aimed at young people living with HIV, contains explicit and graphic details on sex, as well as the promotion of casual sex in many forms. The brochure claims, “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. There is no right or wrong way to have sex. Just have fun, explore and be yourself!” The brochure goes on to encourage young people to “Improve your sex life by getting to know your own body. Play with yourself! Masturbation is a great way to find out more about your body and what you find sexually stimulating. Mix things up by using different kinds of touch from very soft to hard. Talk about or act out your fantasies. Talk dirty to them.”
The brochure also tells students that national laws requiring HIV-positive people to reveal their status to their partner(s) “violate the rights of people living with HIV” and calls for advocacy to “change laws that violate your rights.” It explains, “There are many reasons that people do not share their HIV status. … They may worry that people will find out something else they have kept secret, like they are using injecting drugs, having sex outside of a marriage or having sex with people of the same gender.”
Predictably, this became a source of outrage on the Right, with articles about it showing up on OneNewsNow, World Magazine, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, Catholic Online, and LifeNews, among other places. The National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez even made it the focus of her column.
The only problem is that the Girl Scouts unequivocally deny that it ever happened:
Earlier this month, 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.
• 30 – 35 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 multi-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 to 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.
The Girl Scout organization does not take a position on family planning. Our membership is a cross-section of America with regard to opinions on religious and social issues and practices. We believe these matters are best decided by girls and their families.
The Girl Scout organization has no affiliation with any political organization.
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.
Honestly, does the right-wing claim even seem plausible? Are we really supposed to believe that Girl Scout leaders kicked all the adults out of the room so that Planned Parenthood could distribute a brochure [PDF] to a group of young girls about how to lead sexually fulfilling lives while living with HIV?
I realize that the Religious Right fundamentally loathes Planned Parenthood and will believe just about any horror story about them, but this is just ridiculous.