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School drops fashion show

MILWAUKEE -- A Roman Catholic school is canceling a fashion show by the manufacturer of American Girl dolls and books amid conservative groups' criticism of a girls organization that receives support from the company.

St. Luke School in Brookfield notified its parents of the decision through bulletins at Masses over the weekend.

Two national groups -- the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago and the American Family Association in Tupelo, Miss. -- have raised questions about the American Girl brand and its parent company, Mattel Inc., because of the company's fund-raising for Girls Inc., formerly known as Girls Clubs of America.

The American Family Association has called Girls Inc. ''a pro-abortion, pro-lesbian advocacy group." Girls Inc. says it provides a variety of programs to educate and encourage girls and does accept lesbian sexual orientation. Alexander Kopelman, director of communications, said it does not include abortion in its programming, though it does not control what leaders say if girls ask about it.

Money raised through ticket and raffle sales at the planned fashion show was to go toward a new playground and a refurbished library at St. Luke School.

Julie Parks, spokeswoman for American Girl, said no other groups have canceled, and the company said some groups ''have chosen to misconstrue American Girl's purely altruistic efforts."

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