BOISE – For decades The Girl Scouts of America has been dedicated to helping young girls learn life skills. But now the organization is having to defending itself against a rumor that they say is disrupting sales of their biggest fund raiser - cookies.
The rumor started two years ago and connects the Girl Scouts to Planned Parenthood.
The CEO of the Silver Sage Girl Scouts Council, Shelli Rambo Roberson says the rumor has been fueled by social media sites and blogs, and for some reason, it's gaining traction this year.
Roberson says the rumor started at a global forum in Europe about the status of women in the world.
“Out of that came a rumor that there was some training given to girls from Planned Parenthood, and there is absolutely no merit to that,” said Roberson.
The rumor claims sexually explicit information was given to the Girl Scouts by members of Planned Parenthood.
“There's no partnership or interaction between Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood,” said Roberson.
Even though the incident allegedly happened two years ago, they're now seeing more people reacting.
“We have girls report to us that people have said they won't support them,” said Roberson.
Within the four Girl Scout offices in south Idaho, they've received over 200 phone calls from concerned citizens and e-mails continue to fill their in boxes.
“The fact that they're being bombarded with a false rumor is really frustrating,” said Roberson.
Roberson says this rumor is impacting the girls that are part of this long time organization.
“That's what I want people to really understand. The thing that's being harmed here is an actual girl who needs to be in this organization because it's developing leadership skills that will serve her well through her whole life,” said Roberson.
Roberson says they want to point out they have nothing against Planned Parenthood, but the two organizations are completely separate.
In response to the e-mails they receive, the organization is sending out a statement that reads in part: “GSUSA did not provide girls with any materials from any third party at the Girls' Only workshop conducted on March 1 at the United Nations. While we are happy to share the facts, our approach in addressing this issue is to refrain from fueling speculation about a situation that factually never happened.”
Roberson says some Treasure Valley parents have pulled their children out of Girl Scouts because of the rumor.