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Can a pregnant teen still be a Girl Scout?

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  • Can a pregnant teen still be a Girl Scout?

    A new Senior Girl Scout moved into my area and was referred to my troop. After meeting her mother, an 11-year GS troop leader, at a Service Unit meeting, I invited them both to our next troop meeting.

    At the meeting, the Girl Scout introduces herself and states she is 3 months pregnant. After picking my jaw up off the floor (couldn't Mom have given me a little heads-up?), I ended up making her cry by telling her she won't be able to go on a 16-day, 3000-mile roadtrip with the troop next summer, because her baby will be 2 months old. Didn't mean to make her cry, but I think a reality check was in order after Mom reassured me that they would find someone to look after Baby while they were on the trip.

    This Girl Scout has been in Scouting since kindergarten, and she says she still wants to be in the organization. I cannot find any policy from GSUSA, except with relation to "sexuality" which is "don't ask, don't tell".

    I'm seriously torn between:
    1. Knowing that this young woman needs a support network and that we have all promised to be a sister to every Girl Scout.
    2. Being concerned about the example this will set for the other members of the troop (three 8th graders, and two 10th graders).

    Plus this is a small, rural community and do I want a 6-month pregnant troop member out selling cookies in January? I don't in any way condone her actions, and she accepts that she made a poor choice.

    In 8 years as a troop leader this is my first real conundrum.

  • #2
    Have you asked for some guidence from higher up within the Girl Scout organization? I would start there. This cannot be the first time this has come up.
    Good Luck.


    • #3
      I don't know enough about the Girl Scout organization to comment on any policies they may or may not have that fit this situation.

      I do know enough about the needs of human beings to wonder why anyone would deny a girl a support network of her peers just because of a physical condition, and make no mistake, pregnancy is a physical condition, This girl will need friends she can count on, especially if she's just moving into a new area, and since she's already very familiar with the program, she's turning to a familiar friend (the Girl Scouts) to help her through this.

      This girl, by your account, admits she made a poor choice - if she's modeling that to the other girls, she would be a positive role model - it can be pretty powerful for young girls to see a peer admitting this was a bad choice, and watching her struggle to get through the day.

      As for the trip - is her not being able to attend the result of her current physical condition not allowing her to participate in training and conditioning trips? You don't say what kind of 16 day trip it is. If it's not a major camping/hiking/backpacking/canoeing/biking type outdoor adventure trip requiring months of preparation, and is only because you think a mother should be with her baby, then I would reverse course and let her come on the trip - the grandmother-to-be has already indicated they'll have someone to watch over the baby for those 16-days, and frankly, the trip may be exactly what this girl will need after giving birth - it could go a long way to alleviate potential post-partum depression (and she's going to be at a higher risk for this because of her age), and allow her the time to decompress and get her head on straight for her future with the baby.

      I wonder, do you have it in your heart to start over, welcome this girl with open arms, and an open mind and heart, and be a part of welcoming a new life into this world?


      • #4
        Have you considered that the girl may be giving the child up for adoption? She and her mother may not want to discuss her plans with others at this time. I have no experience with the Girl Scouts but I have known a couple of young women that have been in this situation. She needs all the support she can get right now.

        Hope things turn out OK.



        • #5
          I have to agree with calico.

          First I would confer with the higher ups at GSUSA

          If they give their approval, then why not. She has said that she realizes that she has made poor decisions. Like Calico said, this can have a positive influence on the other girls. But don't sugar coat it. Make sure they realize the true realities of being a young mother and what can really happen.

          As for the road trip. That would have to be up to her family. Maybe she would be best suited to go on the trip. She should be back in good physical health and maybe if you open your arms as sister's in Girl Scouting, it may be the push that she needs to keep her life on the right track. If this young lady has any chance of making a good life for her and her child, you may very well be that rock that helps to hold her up.

          Making amends with her can be a delicate situation, I would ask the mother if she is willing to let you try again, if you are able to have her remain with the troop. If the young lady says yes, then welcome her, and make the best of things.


          • #6
            Can a pregnant teen still be a Girl Scout - Of course she can.

            She is female and under 18. Being pregnant does not magically change your birth date and make you an adult. Neither does it make you a freak to be shunned, or harassed.

            This poor, brave, young woman, needs Scouting more than most.

            Also, it is NOT YOUR decision who watches her child and when. Punishing her because you do not approve is very wrong.

            If you can not set the example for your girls, and stop being judgmental, and welcome her as the sister Scout she is, then I suggest you be honest with her and her mother, and give them contact info to find a different Troop.


            • #7
              There's a GS policy that prevents pregnant girls from joining/participating in outings? I don't know of such a policy. Is this YOUR policy? Scouting guidelines for membership are pretty clear. We don't all agree on every one of them, but they are clear. What GSUSA policy is your decision based on?


              • #8
                In a perfect situation, the advice so far is pretty good. But this doesn't sound like a perfect situation. That the mom met with you and didn't bother to mention that the girl is pregnant bothers me. That the girl doesn't seem to think that carrying, delivering and caring for an infant will effect her vacation plans is scary. Da'Nile ain't just a river in Africa.

                I would proceed with caution. Do what you can for the girl? Sure. But my Scoutmaster radar is going nuts here.

                I think some long conversations are in order with both the mom and girl and with folks who know how to deal with these things. I would want the other girls' parents on board too.

                As Calico says, it could be a positive thing for the other girls in the group to have this experience. It could also be a disaster. You need to have a pretty good indication which it will be.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)


                • #9
                  Fellow Scouters,


                  While I agree with most of the statements.

                  The Cub Scouters, Boy Scouters and Venturers on this forum know that the BSA scouting program is a program for everyone.

                  Thru Scoutreach and other OA programs, there are BSA troops in historically trouble neighborhoods and youth detention centers. I would assume GSUSA conducts similar programs to deliver a positive impact on all girls.

                  While the BSA national guidelines are clear. The BSA leaves it to the discretion of the person accepting the application.

                  I've learned over and over again in Scoutmaster Specifics and the annual membership Roundups or School Night for Scouting.

                  When we have an adult that is not the best example for our youth. It is up to the Committee Chair to either accept or not accept the membership application.

                  Similarly, for a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, or Venturer, it is up to the Cubmaster, Scoutmaster or Advisor to accept or not accept the membership application. The adult leader should have very good law abiding reasons for declining a membership application.

                  All youth deserve the opportunity to be in Scouting. But is every pack, troop or crew the right fit for every youth?

                  So it may not be HeatherK's decision who or when watches the Senior Girl Scout's child. Or if a pregnant teen is still eligible to be a Girl Scout. (I would bet she is still eligible according to National GSUSA).

                  But if the local GSUSA troop application process is like the BSA youth application process, it is HeatherK decision if any girl will be accepted into her troop. Not yours, not mine, not GSUSA, but HeatherK's decision.

                  As ScoutNut as stated... Hopefully, in the new Senior Girl Scout is not accepted, HeatherK will assist her to find another Girl Scout Troop that is the right fit. I agree.

                  So let's not beat up on HeatherK, but give her reasonable answers. Let her know what the factual GSUSA policy is, or let Heather know if it is your opinion.

                  Scouting Forever and Venture On!
                  Crew21 Adv


                  • #10
                    After seeing an 18 yo unwed father "living in sin" with his girlfriend awarded the Eagle Scout award (after appealing the EBOR decision to Council), nothing surprises me any more.


                    • #11
                      So far Girl Scouts are searching for an answer, and going further up the line to get one.

                      My concern is not for the physiological condition of pregnancy unless Girl Scout insurance will not cover her for injuries related to pregnancy. My concern is how to deal with the very real SOCIAL issue of teen pregnancy.

                      From our brief time together within a troop meeting, the Girl Scout gave me the impression she intends to raise the child, probably with the help of her mother. When talking about being pregnant, she stated she has a feeling that it will be a girl, because "when you're pregnant, you have a feeling" and she's already had "girl-baby dreams".

                      According to the CDC, in 2006 435,436 babies were born to mothers aged 15 to 19, or 41.9 per 1000 young women in this age group. Teen mothers are enough of an issue in our county that we have a day care for them at the high school, which is thankfully right across the street from the middle school, because they need it too.

                      I have not disallowed the Girl Scout from coming on the trip, I only pointed out that she will have personal responsibilities at that time that she needs to consider before making future plans. Both the Girl Scout AND her mother were planning on leaving the 2 month old baby behind while they went off for 16 days. I don't have any children of my own, but I cannot imagine how she will be able to do that.

                      I know that she needs extra support, but at the same time, there are five other troop members that need support, too. What if a parent decides to remove their daughter from Girl Scouts because of a pregnant troop member?

                      Please stop trying to make me the bad guy, when I'm asking for advice on how to deal with a situation that is way beyond my training as a Girl Scout leader. Where do I find the balance between helping one Girl Scout in a bad situation, stopping her from glamorizing her situation without constantly using her poor decision as an example of what not to do, teaching the other troop members that this is far from ideal, teaching acceptance that sometimes people make mistakes, and teaching personal responsibility????

                      If her Mother had told me about the pregnancy before arriving at a troop meeting, I would have been able to ask GS for advice in advance and talk this over with the other adults in the troop leadership team. As it is, we're backpedaling and trying to figure out where to go from here.


                      • #12
                        Before saying anything, I would like to know her age?


                        • #13
                          She had her 17th birthday on Monday.


                          • #14
                            Wow, what a sticky situation to deal with as a leader. The mother and girl should definitely have given you a heads up beforehand. A 16 day trip at 2 months seems really early, IMHO, but not my place to judge. What to do now? The girl is/would be a Girl Scout regardless of her parenting status. The baby would be a tag-along - same as the baby of a leader. So the baby may not attend meetings or events to which other tag-alongs are not able to come. As for cookies and other fundraising that the troop is sure to be doing in advance of your trip - to me that's the really tricky part. Perhaps she could help behind the scenes: be the "cookie mom" - compile and enter orders, run the troop cupboard, organize and stock cookie booths, etc. Don't think based on the intro that I personally would have her be the treasurer of the cookie sale - too many warning bells for that.


                            • #15
                              Crew21 the GSUSA membership process is not like BSA's. There are no charter organizations in GSUSA. Heather has no say in weather or not this girl will be a Girl Scout. She already is a Senior Girl Scout. As I mentioned, Heather can decide not to accept this girl into the Troop. However, there are some GSUSA Councils that do not allow Troops to limit their membership, and if Heather is in one of those she may have to fight to ban this girl.

                              Heather, first you stated this girl said she had made a poor choice in getting pregnant, then you state she is glamorizing her pregnancy. I don't think you can have it both ways. And I don't think you need to "constantly" beat her, or the other girls, over the head with the fact that she made a poor decision. Actually, I doubt that many high school girls would make a conscious decision to become pregnant. They are simply young, stupid, think they are invincible, and that things like that only happen to other people.

                              You talk about her not taking "personal responsibility", yet you state that this girl is going thru with the pregnancy, and keeping her child. Wow, seems to me you can't get much better at taking responsibility for your actions than that. You have a young woman, 15-16 years old, in her first or second year of high school, who is taking on the responsibility to feed, clothe, raise a child, and still go to school and try to make something of her life, and her child's. If this is not enough, how would you suggest she take "personal responsibility"?

                              You said that you have a Troop of Cadette and Senior Scouts. At this age, the Troop is THEIRS, not yours. Why is it only the adults that are deciding this? The girls have a right to be involved in this decision too. Have you discussed this with them?

                              What did the girls have to say when she told them she was pregnant? What did she tell them? Seems like this would have been the perfect time for the girls to have a discussion about this very pertinent "social issue".

                              Heather, I am not trying to make you the "bad guy". I am trying to help you see your role as an adviser to these girls. What you do here WILL make an impression on them. I also do not understand what "answer" you are asking your council to "go further up the line" to get.

                              Is it that you are trying to get her membership in GSUSA pulled? I really hope that is not the case.

                              Why not simply tell her to contact your SUM for other options, such as a different Troop, starting a new one, or moving to Juliette?