Girl Scouts to Troop: Stop Tying Us to Your Gaza Fundraiser

St. Louis mom says girls were making bracelets to raise cash for humanitarian aid for Palestinian kids
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2024 11:17 AM CST
Girl Scouts to Troop: Stop Tying Us to Your Gaza Fundraiser
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/AndreyCherkasov)

On the Girl Scouts of the USA website, the organization touts its diversity, including with a feature-length piece on two California troops made up of Muslim children who attend school in an Islamic mosque. But a St. Louis mom says she's now being threatened with legal action from the organization after she started a fundraiser for her daughter's troop to raise money for the suffering children of Gaza. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Nawal Abuhamdeh typically takes charge of the troop's annual cookie sale, but this year she couldn't muster up enthusiasm for it, her mind on the Palestinian territory, where some 12,000 children have been killed and others are facing hunger, lack of safe drinking water, and illness.

That's who Abuhamdeh and the Girl Scouts under her charge, including girls of various Middle Eastern heritage, wanted to help via assembling and selling bead bracelets to raise cash for humanitarian needs. Abuhamdeh says she'd seen similar troop efforts for victims of the Ukraine war. However, shortly after Abuhamdeh started promoting the fundraiser on social media, she says she received an email from the Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, asking her to yank any reference to the Girl Scouts in the fundraising efforts. The email noted that the Girl Scouts wanted to "stay neutral" and away from "partisan politics" around the conflict, and that Abuhamdeh hadn't gone through "appropriate policy, procedures, and approval processes as outlined in our volunteer and leader training documents," Abuhamdeh says.

She adds that the email also warned she'd be hit with possible legal consequences over the group's "intellectual property" if she didn't do as requested. Abuhamdeh, who says she told the organization she wasn't being political and that she would've asked for approval if she'd known it was going to be an issue, decided to withdraw the troop from the Girl Scouts instead after conferring with other parents. "I got a little scared," she says. "I wondered: What are they going to do to me?" (A Christian activist pushed back on the Girl Scouts last year over pronouns.)

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