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Group calls for American Girl boycott, says alternatives exist

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A pro-life group Nov. 1 called for a boycott of the popular American Girl doll and book series during the Christmas shopping season, saying the company’s ties to an organization supportive of abortion rights and lesbianism are unacceptable.

The Pro-Life Action League’s announcement came three weeks after it first spotlighted American Girl’s partnership with Girls Inc., a nonprofit youth organization whose advocacy statement supports legalized abortion, contraceptive access and assistance for girls exploring their “sexual orientation.” Prior to 1990, Girls Inc. was known as Girls Clubs of America.

For each $1 “I Can” bracelet American Girl sells, the company has pledged to donate 70 cents to Girls Inc. In addition to the proceeds netted from bracelet sales, American Girl — a subsidiary of Mattel — has promised to donate $50,000 to the organization. The “I Can” bracelet was launched in September as a way of encouraging girls to “follow their dreams.” The American Girl doll and book series is popular among young girls.

“We hope to show American Girl that there are a number of us who really care about what is right and who are offended by their affiliation with Girls Inc.,” Pro-Life Action League Executive Director Ann Scheidler told Baptist Press.

Conservative Christians, she said, need to “put our money where our mouth is … and not spend money with American Girl.”

Another pro-family group, the American Family Association, has urged concerned citizens to contact American Girl and express their disappointment.

Scheidler and other conservative leaders have urged Christians to explore alternatives to American Girl. Two of the more popular ones are A Life of Faith dolls (www.alifeoffaith.com) and the Beautiful Girlhood Collection (www.visionforum.com/beautifulgirlhood).

“We asked people to call [American Girl],” Scheidler said. “We know they got tons of calls, and we know that we had some impact because they took the I Can project off their home page.”

Already, the controversy has led a Catholic school in Wisconsin to cancel an American Girl Fashion Show, the Associated Press reported. Frank Malloy, pastor of St. Luke School in Brookfield, wrote to parents, saying, “The cost is too high. Our integrity isn’t for sale.” Only 60-65 of the shows are held throughout the U.S. each year, and the school could have raised more than $10,000, AP said. The shows involve young girl models carrying dolls and wearing the same outfits as the dolls.

Although American Girl has yet to return phone calls from Baptist Press, it released a statement in September, saying, “We are profoundly disappointed that certain groups have chosen to misconstrue American Girl’s purely altruistic efforts and turn them into a broader political statement on issues that we, as a corporation, have no position.”

The company also maintains the money it gives to Girls Inc. benefits programs for education and leadership that are separate from Girls Inc.’s advocacy.

“That just frees up the money that is already in the bank to spend it on whatever project Girls Inc. wants,” Scheidler said. “You can dedicate $50,000 or $100,000 to academic pursuits, and then whatever money you’ve got, put it into your sex-ed programs that support condoms for teenage girls.”

Young girls, Scheidler said, are being introduced to Girls Inc. through the “I Can” bracelets.

“It really concerns us about the whole concept of drawing girls from American Girl — who are little girls — into this whole agenda of the Girls Inc. organization,” she said. “The more and more I look into it, the more questionable it is. There are many areas on that website that give you a clear indication that they have a radical agenda.”

Girls Inc.’s website includes a “Bill of Rights” which states girls have the right “to accept and appreciate their bodies.” According to Girls Inc., that right also includes abortion.

“We recognize the right of all women to choose whether, when, and under what circumstances to bear children,” an advocacy statement on the website states. “Reproductive freedom and responsibility are essential to other rights and opportunities, including pursuit of education, employment, financial security and a stable and fulfilling family life. Restrictions of reproductive choice are especially burdensome for young women and poor women. Girls Incorporated supports a woman’s freedom of choice, a constitutional right established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade.”

The Girls Inc. advocacy statement, adopted in 2000, also vows to fight “homophobia.”

“We recognize that any sizable group of girls includes those who face issues related to their sexual orientation or that of a family member and who face discrimination based on this sexual orientation,” the statement reads. “Girls have a right to positive, supportive environments and linkages to community resources for dealing with issues of sexual orientation.”

The statement says that abstinence should be the “first choice” but that girls should have “convenient access to safe, effective methods of contraception.”

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust