Guidelines for Girl Scout Troop & Service Unit Websites
Nearly all Girl Scout members surf the web regularly and many Girl Scout Troops and Girl Scout Service Units are designing their own web pages. Websites and the information they contain may be viewed by anyone, anywhere! Ensuring the health and safety of girls is the cornerstone of the Girl Scout Movement; therefore Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas provides the following guidelines and information.
- Before you begin developing a Girl Scout website, you must first designate one (1) adult who will be the primary volunteer responsible for managing the website. This person will be responsible for monitoring the website so that it meets the guidelines below.
IDENTIFYING MEMBERS ONLINE
- If you wish to post Girl Scouts’ names on the website, first names are recommended and you must have the approval from the girl and parent to use the entire name.
- Never identify personal addresses of of Girl Scouts, however you may list your recruitment events.
- If you must include contact information, create a generic email address (such as "GSTroop11223@yahoo.com") to which communications may be sent that will effectively hide any individual identity within the Girl Scout Troop or Service Unit. Make sure you respond to emails in a timely fashion, usually within 24-48 hours.
- Never post photos without permission. A signed Girl Scout Membership Form includes permission for photos to be used for Girl Scout purposes, but we strongly suggest you collect Publicity Release Forms for each person pictured on your website for your own records. For more information on the GSNETX Publicity Release Policy and Publicity Release forms, click here.
Remember that anything you place on your website is a reflection of Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and GSUSA, so be cautious in selecting content. Ask yourself, what information would be appropriate for a stranger to see on your site?
- Make sure that the girls and adults in your Girl Scout Troop or Service Unit who may be contributing content to the site realize that this is a Girl Scout website, not a personal website, and that everything they contribute must be scrutinized carefully by the Designated Adult (see Adult Responsibility) before it is uploaded, both for appropriateness of content and for safety/security of GSNETX members. References to race, color, religion, age (except when referring to girl program grade levels), sex, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, learning disability, physical or mental disability, ancestry, genetic information, and any other protected class status, as well as political and personal opinions, have no place on a Girl Scout web page.
- Speak with the girls in your Girl Scout Troop or Service Unit and make sure that they understand the importance of preserving the Girl Scout image online. Don’t allow them to post content on any page, forum, blog or chat room on behalf of the Girl Scout Troop or Service Unit without examining the content first, and encourage them to use good judgment and discretion in choosing what they post on their own websites.
- Have Girl Scouts fill out the Internet Safety Pledge, available by clicking here, and discuss online safety with them. Make sure the Girl Scouts understand the potential dangers of using the Internet, and educate them about not sharing personal information, photos, contact information, etc. with strangers online.
COMMUNICATION WITH PARENTS/GUARDIANS
- Invite parents/guardians to contact you if they have any concerns regarding the content of your website, and be understanding and flexible in dealing with any content that raises concerns.
- Consider hyperlinks with care. If you link to another webpage from your website, make sure that the webpage’s content is consistent with Girl Scout values and doesn’t contain inappropriate or controversial material. Remember, anything you link to will be associated with your website, even if you did not create the objectionable content.
In some cases, websites require permission to link to them, so obtain any necessary permission according to the particular website’s guidelines before linking to the website. You may link to the GSNETX site (www.gsnetx.org) and Girl Scouts of the USA (www.girlscouts.org) from your Girl Scout Troop or Service Unit webpage if you choose.
SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITES
- If your website is hosted by Facebook or another social networking site, exercise extreme caution in placing other users on your "friend list." Just as with external website links, you must examine the profiles of other users before permitting the "friend" connection and make sure to avoid any questionable or controversial content on the other users’ sites. Do not add users to your "friend list" if you do not know them. Whenever possible, set your profile to private so that only those on your "friend list" may view it.
ADVERTISING AND PRODUCT SALES
- Do not sell advertising on your site, either in text or graphic format. This includes banner ads, skyscraper ads, sponsored links, etc. The sale of advertising creates an implied relationship between Girl Scouts and the goods or services advertised and cannot be permitted.
- Girls and adults may not post notices on websites to sell Girl Scout Cookies or other products from council-sponsored product sales.
WEBSITE GUIDELINE INFRACTIONS
- If Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas or GSUSA contacts you and requests that any content or links on your website be removed or altered in accordance with their guidelines, it is required that you comply with the request.
- If you find that a Girl Scout website is in violation of any of the Girl Scout Website Guidelines, email GSNETX Director of Marketing & Communications Natalie Martin at email@example.com. Please describe the violation in detail in the email and include the URL of the website in question.
The 2010 Branding Tagline is "What did you do today?"
BRANDING AND MESSAGING
Make sure that you follow all Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and GSUSA branding and messaging guidelines when creating the content of your website, and observe copyright restrictions and guidelines for use of the Girl Scout service mark and other materials. Click here for the GSNETX Branding Guidelines.
TRADEMARKS AND COPYRIGHTS
As noted in Safety-Wise (page 129), "A group website may not use copyrighted designs, text, graphics or trademarked symbols without specific permission from the copyright or trademark holder. The basic principle is: If it is not yours, don’t use it." This rule applies to copyrights and trademarks held by Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas and GSUSA, as well.
- Trademarks owned by GSUSA include:
- The Girl Scout Service Mark
- The words Girl Scout Daisy, Girl Scout Brownie, Girl Scout Junior, Girl Scout Cadette, Girl Scout Senior, Girl Scout Ambassador, Girl Scouts, Girl Scouting, Girl Scout Cookies, Girl Scout Journeys, and the Girl Scout Leadership Experience
All trademarks must be used in accordance with guidelines for their use. Click here to read the GSNETX Branding Guidelines, and click here to read the Guidelines for Use of the Girl Scout Service Mark.
- You may not use illustrations, photographs or other graphics taken from Leader Magazine, the Girl Scout Journey Books, or other Girl Scout handbooks/publications on your website without the express written permission of GSUSA. This includes official Girl Scout insignia such as images of Girl Scout Brownie Try-Its, Girl Scout Junior Badges, Girl Scout Interest Project Awards, the Girl Scout Gold Award, etc. All of these images are the copyrighted property of GSUSA and/or the artist. In order to obtain permission, you must contact GSUSA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You may not post Girl Scout songs, stories, poetry or articles on your website unless you have first determined that they are not copyrighted by another party or by GSUSA. If the materials are copyrighted, you can request permission for their use from the owner, author or publisher of the materials, but do not use the materials until the permission has been granted in writing. For songs, please note that copyrights cover both the words and the music, so neither can be used if the song is copyrighted and you do not have permission to use it.
- You may not post copyrighted videos on your website without written permission from the creator or owner of the videos.
- Using the phrase "no copyright infringement is intended" (or similar wording) on your website DOES NOT mean that you can upload copyrighted or trademarked material without permission. All necessary permission must be obtained, or the material cannot be posted on your website.