Scouts scrap transgender policy

29 May 2019

The Scouts have scrapped an 18-month-old transgender policy which members have said put young people’s safety at risk.

Changes in policy

The organisation, which has accepted both boys and girls since 1991, has withdrawn advice that a child’s gender transition should be treated with “complete confidentiality”, including being kept from other children’s parents.

The guidance now says that such information can be shared with families or the authorities if there are welfare concerns and states that:

“If you are concerned about a trans young person’s welfare, it would be appropriate to disclose that they are trans, if it is relevant to the situation. This should be done sensitively, and ideally in conversation with the young person, to avoid unnecessary distress.”

Similarly, the Scouts’ equal opportunities policy has been changed to include the category ‘sex’ where previously it had been ‘gender identity’.

Avoiding offending trans members

The original policy, drawn up with input from transgender lobby group Mermaids, had originally warned pack leaders to stop referring to children as boys and girls to avoid offending transgender members.”

David T.C. Davies MP initially commented on the policy, saying:

“This is just madness. I used to be in the Scouts and it seems now that common sense has been thrown out of the window if you can’t say ‘hello girls’ or ‘hello boys’. It is going to cause massive confusion to everyone.”

Despite rejecting the old policy’s guidance, the Scouts still have several policies on LGBTQA+, including policy on sexual orientation, transgender and gender identity, and supporting transgender young people and volunteers.

New policy still encourages Scout leaders to “listen without making any judgements or assumptions. Reassure them that Scouting is an inclusive movement and that they [transgender young people] will always be welcome.”

It also states that “trans young people should be able to use the toilets or facilities of the gender they identify as,” potentially putting other scouts at risk of safeguarding issues.

References to Mermaids

Most references to Mermaids, the transgender lobby group that had helped draft the original guidance, have now been removed. The campaign group has since come under fire for their controversial training, promotion of misinformation and coercion of ‘gender transitioning’ in children. Most recently, Rev. John Parker resigned as governor at a Church of England primary school after being silenced by Mermaids during training they had been invited to provide to staff and governors.

“Offering support”

A representative of the Scout Association said:

“We regularly review our policies and guidance to ensure they are clear and up-to-date. We have worked with members of the trans and feminist communities to update our guidance. We want to ensure we offer the best support.”

Tim Dieppe, Head of Public Policy at Christian Concern, commented:

“It is encouraging to see the Scouts recognising that they made a mistake with their transgender policy and adopting a more sensible approach. It is a step in the right direction, although the revised policy is still deeply problematic.

“Girl Guides should also reverse their appalling transgender policy. Other organisations should be encouraged by the new stance of the Scouts and where similar mistakes have been made, they should also revise their policies. All organisations should steer well clear of taking advice from Mermaids, especially now that they have been clearly shown to misrepresent both the law and the science in their activities.”

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