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Mom files discrimination lawsuit against Girl Scouts

LAWRENCEVILLE -- A Gwinnett mother has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Girl Scouts of Metro Atlanta, claiming her twin daughters were expelled from their troop after a presentation on their family's participation in the civil rights movement.

In the civil suit filed Sept. 30 in Gwinnett County State Court, Angela Johnson and Snellville attorney S. Carlton Rouse allege that the 8-year-old girls were asked to leave Troop 1164 "solely to punish (them) for expressing an aspect of their family history."

They are allegations the Girl Scouts of Metro Atlanta vehemently denied in a statement issued on their website, saying, in part, that the organization had "concluded that this was a matter of miscommunication and hurt feelings between mothers interested in the best for the young women they care for."

According to the lawsuit, Johnson's children were "distraught" when they received a "cool" response to their presentation in March, one that reportedly highlighted their grandfather's role "working side by side with many civil rights leaders" in Greenwood, Miss.

"The only applause they received was from the other two African American girls and one Indian girl in attendance," the suit said. Troop 1164 is 70 percent white, it said.

The following month, Johnson reportedly received an email from troop leaders Michelle Norman and Heather Spyke -- also listed as defendants in the lawsuit -- citing a concern over the Johnson twins' "interest in Scouts."

"While we've tried to do a variety of activities to keep everyone interested," the email allegedly said, "we haven't seen the level of enthusiasm from the twins as we have from the rest of the troop."

"Their disinterest in troop activities affects the other girls," it went on. "We don't feel it fair to (the twins) or the other girls to continue."

Reached by phone Monday, Norman declined comment and deferred to the Girl Scouts. The organization denied that the Johnson girls were even expelled from their troop, saying it was "Mrs. Johnson's decision to discontinue her daughters' participation."

"It is not unusual to occasionally have disagreements in a large, volunteer organization such as ours, which is why we employ a standard reconciliation process when an occasional situation arises," their statement said.

Rouse, Johnson's attorney, could not be reached for comment Monday. Girl Scouts spokeswoman Shana Davis could also not be reached.

The lawsuit -- which also cites "other examples of unfair treatment to minority girls within (Troop 1164)" -- charges the Girl Scouts with intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence, among other accusations.