Chief Commissioner's Blog | Pride 2016
Wayne reflects on the advances Scouting has made during his time as UK Chief Commissioner, in terms of inclusivity and LGBTQ+ pride.
Whilst the word ‘parade’ goes together with Scouts almost as much as woggles and campfires, this was not the case for Pride parades: before 2009, Scouts would not have been expected to attend. However, I am pleased to say that over my time as UK Chief Commissioner, our presence has grown and developed to become a very powerful and visual symbol of the Movement’s approach to inclusivity and diversity.
Members have described ‘that it opens doors and inspires young people and potential leaders to be confident in who they are, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and informs them that they are accepted,’ and that it is important to ‘demonstrate to young people that it doesn’t matter who you are, we value you as a Scout’.
Participation itself can of course be great fun too. It can also have a valuable impact for those who attend. In 2014, we invited 16 and 17-year-olds to join us at Pride. One of the young people who attended in 2014 described it as ‘being able, as a young LBGTQ+ person, to be surrounded by similar people and it not matter at all who was gay and who wasn’t’.
There is still much work to be done to ensure that every member understands why we attend, and recognises the positive impact our presence at the Pride event has on young people and our adult volunteers. Throughout my 15 years as a national volunteer, and indeed the view that motivated me to stand for election and ultimately to have the honour of being UKCC, is the simple belief that Scouting changes the lives of young people and that we therefore must ensure that everybody has an equal opportunity to participate.
In order to achieve this, we have to challenge the myths and perceptions that prevail. Simply changing our policies, as we did with the ground-breaking Equal Opportunities policy in 1996 and the introduction of the additional wording of the Promise in 2014, is not sufficient: we need to continually ensure that the wider public, as well as all of our members, understand our policies. For me, that is why participation in events like Pride remains a significant opportunity to demonstrate, not just to ourselves but to others too, our commitment to create a Movement in which everyone is comfortable to be themselves.
As the success of Scouting’s involvement in Pride events has gathered pace, we now participate in events across the UK, in Edinburgh, Blackpool, Birmingham and Cardiff for example. The success of FLAGS operating as a National Scout Active Support Unit has played a key role in supporting members within the LGBT community and promoting our attendance at Pride events.
It is important that Scouting continues to actively challenge discrimination, and promote LGBT equality. As Chief Commissioner, I was pleased to represent Scouting in a Stonewall anti-bullying campaign. Supporting Stonewall was a powerful opportunity to demonstrate not just my own personal support, but also raise awareness of Scouting’s commitment to inclusion.
Whilst we have been ahead of the game in ensuring that our policies and practices ensure we are an open, inclusive Movement, we clearly still have further to go in continuing to educate those within and outside of the Movement that this is the case.
More information about supporting LGBTQ+ young people is available within Member Resources: