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American Girl's gifts to agency lead school to scrap show (Catholic Grade School, WI)
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ^ | 10/30/2005 | TOM HEINEN

Posted on 10/30/2005 8:48:07 AM PST by UB355

American Girl's gifts to agency lead school to scrap show Backing of lesbianism, abortion sets off storm By TOM HEINEN Posted: Oct. 29, 2005

A Catholic school in Waukesha County is the first non-profit group in the nation to cancel a coveted American Girl Fashion Show amid concerns that the Wisconsin-based doll company behind the show gives money to a national girls organization that presents abortion, contraception and a lesbian sexual orientation as acceptable.

News of the decision by parent volunteers and the pastor at St. Luke School in Brookfield is being reported in bulletins at Masses this weekend.

"It seemed like a match made in heaven; a motivated Catholic school and an all-American icon," Father Frank Malloy, the pastor, says in his printed explanation. "We seemed poised to raise enough funds for a new playground and a remake of the school library."

But, he concludes, "As for us, it's a bargain we'll just have to pass up. The cost is too high. Our integrity isn't for sale."

Only 60 to 65 American Girl Fashion Shows are held nationwide each year, and no other groups have canceled because of this issue, according to Julie Parks, spokeswoman of the Middleton-based company.

The fashion shows include the firm's popular historic dolls being carried by girls who resemble the dolls and dress in the same outfits.

The parish had scheduled five showings May 19 to 21 at the Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha.

Organizers had planned to mail invitations to more than 20,000 American Girl doll owners in a wide region. They had hoped to raise at least $10,000 - and perhaps $30,000 or more - through ticket and raffle sales, business sponsorships, and a percentage of sales of American Girl's dolls, books, clothes and other products, said the event's co-chairwomen, Marisa Beffel of Brookfield and Catherine Valentyn of the town of Brookfield.

Beffel, who had originally proposed the fashion show, searched the Internet for details last weekend after word of the company's donations spread. Valentyn, who did the same, said it was a clear, but not easy, decision.

"It wasn't just the money," said Valentyn, president of the home and school association. "It was hard to give up the thought of a really great day for mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and the really great products that American Girl has, these dolls with the historic texts that come with them. But it just felt wrong. We know what the Catholic Church stands for, and we, in essence, represent them."

The parish decision to forgo that and to put a $1,000 deposit with American Girl at risk is one of the latest results of a protest that two national groups - the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago and the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss. - mounted this month against American Girl and its parent company, Mattel Inc. The league is threatening to call for a boycott of American Girl products if it does not halt the donations by Tuesday.

The spark that set them off was an "I Can" program the doll and clothing company launched Sept. 19 to encourage girls to follow their dreams and to raise money for Girls Inc.

Formerly known for decades as the Girls Clubs of America, Girls Inc. has more than 1,500 centers across the country. Most serve minorities in low-income neighborhoods.

On its Web site and at the centers, it offers a wide range of programs, resources and advocacy positions to help educate and encourage girls in everything from science and athletics to health and sexuality. That includes support of abortion and contraception along with sexual abstinence as acceptable choices for girls. It also includes affirmation of lesbian sexual orientations.

Joyce M. Roché, president and chief executive officer of Girls Inc., was traveling and not available for comment.

American Girl is encouraging girls to sign an "I Can" pledge and to spend $1 for a band that features the firm's signature, berry-colored star and can be used as a wristband, a ponytail holder, a zipper pull, or for other purposes. The pledge is a promise to "be myself," "always do my best," "reach for the stars," "lend a hand to others" and "to try."

Saying Girls Inc. "has helped millions of girls realize their potential," American Girl is donating $50,000, plus 70 cents from each band sale to support Girls Inc. educational programs.

American Girl is holding to its statement that Girls Inc. is one of hundreds of non-profit organizations the firm supports, and that the Girls Inc. donations support three programs that have not been criticized.

"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 statement says. "The American Girl brand exemplifies the values of wholesomeness and responsibility that we would expect any organization to commend."

That did not appease Valentyn and Beffel, who thought that some of the content on the Girls Inc. Web site was politicized, inappropriate for girls 12 and younger, and contrary to Catholic teachings.

"I think a lot of moms feel betrayed by the company," Beffel said.

From the Oct. 30, 2005, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Have an opinion on this story? Write a letter to the editor or start an online forum.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: Wisconsin
KEYWORDS: americangirl; catholicschools; girlsclubs; girlsclubsofamerica; girlsinc; homosexualagenda; ican
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To: Blue_Ridge_Mtn_Geek

I very much hope that a nine year old from a good Christian home is not that well schooled in sex. Therefore, if they really don't understand Girls Inc. supposed advocacy positions, how can good Christian girls be corrupted by American Girl dolls?

41 posted on 11/08/2005 9:16:47 PM PST by Accygirl
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 40 | View Replies]

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