Girl Scout Employee Resigns Over Pro-Life T-Shirt Ban

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By Eryn Sun, Christian Post Reporter
January 12, 2012|1:50 pm

An Arizona college student quit her job with the Girl Scouts after being asked to turn her pro-life t-shirt inside out because of its message, an incident not shocking to a previous member of the organization.

“I believe unfortunate situations like this will continue to arise, especially as people discover the truth about Girl Scouts' values,” said Sydney Volanski, a former Girl Scouts member who left due to the organization’s pro-choice stance. “I can see a cycle forming: as more people know the truth, more people stand for their beliefs and get criticized; as more people get criticized, more people know the truth.”

The incident involved Renise Rodriguez, a 21-year-old Girl Experience Associate for the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona in Tuscon. She was wearing a “Pray to End Abortion” shirt when she went into the office during off-duty hours to prepare materials for a meeting. It was there that she was told twice by a supervisor to turn her shirt inside out if she planned to stay in the office or attend a troop meeting, according to Priests for Life

“I started to get emotional because of the way I was treated so I left without preparing for the meeting and told my co-worker that she would have to get the stuff together,” the religious studies major shared. “As I was driving out, I called a friend crying and told her the story. I was so shocked at the way I was treated.”

After thinking about what happened during the rest of the day, Rodriguez decided to write a letter of resignation the next day, not specifying what happened.

She planned to discuss with another supervisor the reason for his resignation during her formal exit interview.

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Debbie Rich, CEO of Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona, told The Christian Post that Rodriguez was not aware of the updated policy and procedure in regards to attire when present in the council offices. The new policy was covered during a weekly Friday meeting which the former employee missed due to a conflict in schedule.

The leaders had decided that all employees, volunteers and troop members should be in professional business attire, Girl Scout attire or plain shirts without any social, political or commercial messages when present in the council offices.

“On that day in question, Ms. Rodriguez came into the council office, clocked in for work and was preparing materials for her troop meeting that evening. She’s been leading two of our troops and has done a good job,” Rich described.

“As she was preparing for the troop meeting, her supervisor came to her and said that t-shirts with commercial, political or social messages weren’t appropriate when representing the Girl Scouts and she had three options for attire: she could wear one of the many Girl Scout shirts available at the council office, she could turn her shirt inside out or she could go home and change into a plain shirt.”

The CEO clarified that Rodriguez went home, changed and led her troop meeting that night. She, however, did return the next day and turned in a letter of resignation.

“We are disappointed that she would rather quit this opportunity to be a role model to these young girls from her troops, than to adopt the Girl Scouts’ dress code to not wear shirts with political, social or commercial messages. Our council is saddened by this decision and hope that she will reconsider.”

“As adult leaders of Girl Scouts we take very seriously our role to nurture and support the girls in our troops,” Rich concluded. “Our role is accomplished when we see our Girl Scouts grow into strong women of honesty and courage, ready for leadership – whether as mothers and wives, corporate executives, elected officials or civic volunteers.”

Volanski, who began the Speak Now website with her sister Tess to share the truth about the organization, found “it slightly ironic that the council disallows so-called ‘strong women of honesty and courage’ the right of personal expression,” she explained to The Christian Post.

“As a troop member, I was never told that I couldn't wear shirts with a political, social, or commercial message, and neither was my mother, a leader,” Volanski shared. “This is not a question of adopting dress code. This is a question of standing up for one's beliefs. It is that that shows Ms. Rodriguez to be a strong woman of honesty and courage.”

The former Girl Scout member also shared that she was not surprised by what had happened to Rodriguez.

Volanski and her sister had been involved in the Girl Scouts for eight years before making the decision to leave the organization.

“The Girl Scouts Council where Ms. Rodriguez worked partners with their local Planned Parenthood through their sex education program for teens called Real Life. Real Talk. In light of this, the council's criticism of her pro-life views is not much of a shock,” Volanski noted. “Girl Scouts has persecuted others as well.

“Many a time, they have forced leaders to resign because these pro-life women have opposed the organization's relationship with Planned Parenthood.”

Bryan Kemper, director of Youth Outreach for Priests for Life, applauded Rodriguez’s decision to stand up for her beliefs.

Her “Pray to End Abortion” tee was designed by Stand True Ministry, a pro-life youth organization Kemper founded.

“It is the courage and conviction of young people like Renise that gives us hope that we are closer than ever to winning this battle and bringing an end to child killing in America,” Kemper said on his organization’s site. “Priests for Life is committed to educating, activating and equipping young people to be a voice for life and young heroes like Renise prove this generation is a pro-life generation.”

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, also lauded the 21-year-old’s actions, admiring her courage and willingness to “sacrifice everything to end abortion.”

“Renise is exactly that kind of person, who has not only the right attitude about abortion, but the passion it takes to make the protection of the unborn our number one priority!”

With the Girl Scouts organization continuing to cull controversy due to their position on abortion and sex – accepting transgender children to the association last year – a few faith-based groups are offering alternative choices for families.

One such group is the American Heritage Girls, founded by a group of parents in Ohio wanting a wholesome program for their daughters, “disillusioned with the increasing secular focus of existing organizations for girls.”

Responding to the latest controversy, Patti Garibay, national executive director for AHG, reaffirmed her organization’s values to The Christian Post.

“AHG believes in the sanctity of all life and would not request a volunteer to remove a pro-life T-shirt worn during their personal time,” Garibay stated. “AHG is a faith-based character development program for girls ages 5-18.”

 

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