American Girl, a popular doll company, has recently come under the scrutiny of the American Family Association and the Pro-Life Action League for supporting Girls Inc., an organization the AFA Web site says promotes abortion and homosexuality.
Executive Director of Pro-Life Action League Ann Scheilder said that they officially called a boycott on Nov. 1 after League members called and wrote numerous letters to American Girl and received no response from the organization. Scheilder said she couldn’t even get the president of American Girl, Ellen L. Brothers, to speak with her.
American Girl, whose Web site says its “mission is to celebrate girls,” is participating in a fund-raising campaign selling “I Can” wristbands. Proceeds from the sale of the wristbands go to Girls Inc. programs that promote skills in science and math, leadership, and athletic and team building skills for girls. American Girl has also donated money to Girls Inc. outside of the proceeds of the wristbands.
The Girls Inc. Web site says that the organization not only supports a girls right to make decisions about her sexuality but that it also “supports a woman’s freedom of choice, a constitutional right established by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 in Roe vs. Wade.”
“We feel it’s inappropriate for a doll company whose customers are little girls to be affiliated with an organization that promotes abortion. Abortion always kills children and half of them are little girls,” Scheilder said. American Girl spokesperson Julie Parks said that the company isn’t conducting interviews about the boycott because “the issues raised by these groups aren’t American Girl’s issues and we have no position on them.” She also said that American Girl is stuck in the middle and for American girl to enter “into a debate or discussion [with the AFA] is futile.”
Pat Loomes, executive director of Girls Inc. of Alameda, described the reaction by the anti-abortion groups as “negative and hysterical.”
According to the AFA Web site, many of their members are consumers of the American Girl products that often have patriotic themes. Kathryn Hooks, a spokesperson for the AFA, said this is why American Girl should listen and respond to the AFA’s protest.
Hooks said that they “haven’t called an official boycott yet, but we did send an action alert asking our supporters to contact American Girl to express their disappointment.” She said she didn’t know if a boycott would be called but that a press release would be sent out if the decision was made.
The AFA Web site says that as American Girl customers they are offended by the lifestyle that Girls Inc. is promoting and asked members to “take time to let American Girl know they are making a terrible mistake by supporting the pro-abortion, pro-lesbian organization, Girls Inc.”
The Girls Inc. Preventing Adolescent Pregnancy program description says, “The key is motivating girls to make smart choices – either choosing to postpone sex or, if not, using effective protection against pregnancy and disease.”
Loomes said, “it’s really a national issue and isn’t impacting us. I haven’t received any donor calls [about the boycott].”
The Institute of Civic Leadership at Mills has a partnership with Girls Inc. to develop leadership curriculum for young women in the Bay Area. Rachel Levine, assistant coordinator of ICL said she didn’t know enough about the boycott to comment on it.
Girls Inc. has a history of fighting legislation that inhibits a girl’s right to have control over her body. They helped defeat a 2001 amendment for abstinence only education in high schools.