Scouts for all

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By Tom Milson, UK Commissioner for Inclusion.

Scouts is for everyone: we support all young people.

I’m really proud to be part of an organisation that’s inclusive and open to all. As we enter LGBT+ Pride Month, it’s a great time to celebrate that Scouts remains 100% committed to being welcome to everyone.

As part of our efforts to provide ongoing understanding and support to youth members and adult volunteers, we’ve updated our guidance on gender identity, making sure we’re using Plain English, clear definitions and appropriate language. Speaking to some of our volunteers and young people we know that terminology can sometimes be confusing if you’ve never encountered it before. To support this we’ve explained the meaning of the terms ‘trans’ and ‘non-binary’ in the guidance, and reiterated that every trans young person will be different and will require different support. I feel that our updated guidance will help even more of our amazing volunteers to ensure that trans young people are supported in their sections.

We’ve also updated our guidance for supporting young people and volunteers themselves with gender identity. We know that ‘coming out’ can sometimes be a really difficult time for any person to do at any age. It’s really important to respect the confidentiality of the individual whether it’s an adult coming out or a young person. The journey is different for every member of the LGBT+ community - there’s no one size fits all approach so we’ve moved away from quite specific advice about very specific situations. Our guidance now focuses on the individual young person, putting them in the driving seat of how we make Scouts inclusive for them.

We’ve also expanded our guidance to support volunteers to give young people the chance to speak with others if they feel this will help, but only if the young person has agreed. Respecting their confidentiality is crucial. This approach enables effective conversations with young people and, where appropriate, carers and parents. We are clear that if you have any child protection concerns leaders must follow our yellow Card safeguarding code of practice

Our guidance also includes practical tips on overnight stays, facilities and activities to better support volunteers, and to make sure young people are given a range of options that doesn't single them out. 

We are constantly challenging ourselves on how young people, no matter who they are, can develop skills for life. Inclusivity continues to be a strategic priority, from updating our guidance to establishing new provision in areas of deprivation. We’re continuing to support young people and volunteers from different faiths and backgrounds and extending our reach into new communities demonstrating Scouting is for all. To underpin this work our equal opportunity policy has also been updated as part of our review cycle to ensure it fully reflects current legislation.  It’s important that we continue to review our guidance and policy, and we’re committed to increase our members’ support and to work more in this area as part of our new strategy. 

For support in ensuring that Scouts is inclusive, accessible and as diverse as the communities in which we live please contact the Specialist Advisers for Inclusion and Diversity. This team deliver specialist training on all areas of inclusion across the UK. For those of you at Gilwell Reunion this year you’ll have the opportunity to attend some of the sessions. If you need advice on the recruitment, retention and ongoing support of LGBT+ adults please contact the National Scout Active Support Unit, FLAGS who are able to offer excellent guidance. 

I’m inspired by how many of our volunteers are doing incredible things to support LGBT+ young people across the movement. As an organisation, we are all committed to celebrating our diversity – this year we are growing our partnership with Pride in London to support this event in new ways for young people. When we take an active part in Pride we’re demonstrating our values, recognising and celebrating the individual differences of all our members. 

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Last weekend it was fantastic to see Birmingham Scouts celebrating their biggest Pride event to date and I know many more teams are already finalising plans for their own local events. Thank you for the time and effort you all put in to make events so successful across the UK. I look forward to hearing about the impact and seeing the amazing photos from this summer as we continue to demonstrate that Scouts is for all.

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