We know you have questions – and we’ve heard them all. When you’re talking with us, we want to spend time getting to know you. So let’s get the big questions we get asked a lot out of the way…
Rainbow’s still around?
Yes! We’ve been here since 1922 (we just celebrated 92 amazing years!) and we aren’t going anywhere any time soon. Our members could be your neighbor, a classmate, someone from your church, or the person behind you at the grocery store. Rainbow girls (and our adult volunteers) have a presence in our communities. We often find that people are just so busy with life, they see us, but they don’t ‘see’ us.
If you’ve been around so long, why haven’t I heard of you?
Service and social based clubs have seen a huge decline in membership since the 1950s. Same goes for church membership. Even the 2 biggest youth clubs – Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, have seen a steady drop. A product of changing society – more options and ways to spend your time means everything is a more spread out is likely the reason you’ve never heard of Rainbow. There’s no denying our numbers aren’t nearly as big as they were 50 years ago when a town could easily have 200 Rainbow girls. But we’re still active, and we want to be around for a long time to come.
What do you do?
We have 4 basic types of events: Service oriented, fundraising, personal development, and fun. These can range from cleaning a park, being a camp counselor, collecting canned foods, attending seminars, going to movies, go karts, or anything the girls come up with.
What church are you associated with?
None. We are a non-denominational organization. We have 7 core lessons, each associated with a different color of the Rainbow (7 lessons, 7 colors of the Rainbow – you had to see that coming) and one is Religion. In the lesson of Religion we’re taught that we should believe in a supreme being. We’re also taught the importance of belonging to a church that teaches virtues exemplified by Jesus (regardless of your beliefs about him): love, kindness, forgiveness. And when we say we’re open to all religions that believe in a supreme being, we mean it. Just in Washington Idaho, our membership is diverse. We have Christians, Jewish, Catholics, Episcopalians, Baptists, and more. So in a nutshell, how religion plays into Rainbow is this: God is love.
Pretty easy thing to get behind.
Are you a cult?
Cult is a strong word, and tends to make people uneasy. Especially when you’re implying they are part of one. So let’s get this question out of the way so you don’t have to ask our members. Historically speaking, cult was originally used to describe a group who worshiped a deity. We’ve already established we aren’t about the worshiping part – just acknowledging a single deity. So in that sense, no, we aren’t a cult. But you probably mean ‘cult’ in the ‘you do weird things and something along the lines of New World Order’ way. And in that way… also no. Most definitely no. Some people think community service is weird, or getting dressed up in fancy dresses. But that’s about as weird as it gets.
Yah… about those fancy dresses…?
Yes, we do have a dress code. It varies a bit depending on where you go, but it’s no different than athletes being told what they can wear to practice, wearing uniforms for games, Girl Scouts being encouraged to dress nicely when they sell cookies, or Boy Scouts wearing their uniforms for ceremonies. Some things we wear jeans to, some stuff is business casual, and some things girls can wear formal dresses. Girls just don a simple straight cotton skirt for formal events, or they might pull out a hoop skirt and puffy dress (think Gone With the Wind). If someone doesn’t have clothes that fit within the dress code for an event, we can help with that. Members share dresses, adults sew custom dresses for girls, and if you even need help getting a pair of black pants to wear for business casual – we can help. We never want not having something to wear to be a reason for not participating.
Since you keep mentioning Girl Scouts, what makes you different?
Rainbow offers something no other philanthropic sorority for girls does: We get them ready for life. We’re developing tomorrow’s leaders by giving them the tools they need to succeed. They’re learning how to be leaders, and how to be part of a team. They’re learning the importance of serving others, and how to communicate with people of all ages. Another thing that makes us unique: the girls run the organization. The girls decide what events they do, and how their money is spent. In Washington Idaho, the executive committee is, by design, a girl’s majority. This ensures that when we say we teaching by doing, we mean it.
What about GLAAD? Aren’t you associated with them?
We’re named Rainbow as a symbol of God’s promise. IORG was founded in 1922. GLAAD was founded in 1985. The rainbow was popularized as the official symbol of the gay community in the 70s. A Mr. Gilbert Baker from San Francisco designed the modern gay pride flag in 1978. We don’t know if he was aware at the time, but IORG was using the exact same design, the 6 colored rainbow flag, and had been for decades. So no, we aren’t associated with GLAAD or the gay community. We’re open to many lifestyles, but we aren’t exclusive to one.
How involved, as a parent, do I need to be?
As much as you want to be. A lot of parents find it’s something they enjoy doing with their children, the same way you’ll help out at their little league practices and attend games and drive them to Girl Scouts. As a parent, you’re able to attend everything they are. Some events (like leadership camp) we encourage parents not to attend so their daughter can learn to grow independently, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go. If you find you’re completely tapped out and need help so you can stay home and get stuff done there, we understand. Each assembly has an advisory board that can help drive girls and chaperone if needed. But remember – they are busy adults also, and some events might be harder to find a ride for than others.
I went to a Rainbow thing once. You guys bowed and saluted a lot. What’s up with that?
Each organization has a different way they show respect to their leaders. Some fraternities or sororities address officers by calling them Your Honor. Some youth groups have a variety of handshakes they give. Even sports have their rituals the athletes create to show they are a team and unity. We don’t expect our non-Masonic visitors to bow or salute with us – so feel free to abstain.
I think this is perfect for my daughter, but what’s it going to cost me?
There are annual dues, and in Washington Idaho it’s $35/year. Everything else depends on how much you want to participate, and how much fundraising your daughter does. Our annual convention costs about $250 and that includes 3 night’s hotel, registration, and all meals. Other events could be $10 for a fun activity, or you could go to our international convention which costs about $1500 after airfare and a side trip to sightsee the area. But again, some girls fundraise every expense, and it’s possible for your daughter to as well.