Girl Scouts Defend Decision to Participate in Donald Trump’s Inauguration

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The Girl Scouts of the USA, the popular, over 100-year-old youth organization, defended their participation in the inauguration ceremonies for President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday in the wake of some criticism for their involvement.

It was revealed this week that the Girl Scouts would march in an inaugural parade on Friday. The Boy Scouts of America, as well as several military and veterans’ organizations, will also be participating, but the presence of the Girl Scouts has stoked controversy in light of Trump’s well-documented history of making sexist statements about women, as well as numerous allegations of sexual harassment and assault that have been made against him. Trump has vehemently denied the claims against him.

In an exclusive statement to NBC News, the Girl Scouts, which has been appearing at inaugural events throughout their history, defended their role in the festivities while acknowledging the “strong public response” to their participation in both the march on Jan. 20 and the Women’s March on Washington the following day.

“At Girl Scouts, our movement is made up of individuals who hold political beliefs and convictions as varied as our nation itself. And because every girl has a home at Girl Scouts, every girl in our movement is allowed her own ideas, opinions, beliefs and political ideology,” the group said. “Our fundamental value is empowering girls to be leaders in their own lives. By helping them build the courage, confidence, and character to lift their voices, champion their views, and be advocates for the issues and ideas important to them, Girl Scouts supports girls as they become catalysts for change who strengthen their communities.”

“Of course, we are a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that by law cannot take positions on political candidates or parties — and we take this very seriously,” the group added. “Advocating for change on issues one cares about isn’t at odds with participating in a century-long tradition that represents the peaceful exchange of power.”

The Girl Scouts have historically been apolitical, but that hasn’t stopped one Indiana lawmaker from calling them a “radicalized organization” that promotes “feminists, lesbians, or Communists” in 2012. They drew further criticism from the right for accepting a 7-year-old transgender child in their ranks that same year.

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SOURCE: NBC News, Adam Howard