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Girlguiding - an update

(419 Posts)
AgnesBadenPowell Sat 19-May-18 21:23:46

Firstly, apologies for being offline for a while. It's been a busy few weeks, I went on holiday and started a new job. But back on it now!

You'll know that an article was published in the Sunday Times in March and a couple of weeks later the open letter went in: the final tally was 927 signatures (some of these collected after publication).

Since then I met the CEO, deputy CEO and chief guide. Prior to that, I was warned in emails to use the internal procedures for complaints and to not make things public (I did, and was ignored). I was also "reminded" of the social media policy and told that the campaign would not change the trans policy.

It's probably not appropriate to share my full notes from that meeting here. But I will say that Girlguiding was defensive and prickly. The fact that I have publicly discussed the trans policy on social media in particular irritated Julie Bentley (CEO). I don't know why; the policy is a public document available on the website.

Girlguiding stressed to me that the legal advice they received confirmed that they HAVE to treat trans members (including those who self identify, not just with a GRC) as the opposite sex) as the gender they identify as.

We did agree that in the absence of a test case, there is no legal precedent. It was left that we would await the updated EHRC guidance expected next month before any review is conducted (if they chose to review it).

We did discuss the inconsistencies that the trans policy brings about, eg GG has strict rules that accompanying male children on leaders must have separate sleeping and washing facilities. Even boys as young as 4. But if that boy identified as a girl, then no such rules apply, despite there being no physical, material difference between the two groups of males. Girlguiding referred back to their legal advice that have to treat trans members as the gender they identify as. This includes males who identify as females providing personal care to girls on residentials, a role which is strictly for female leaders only according to GG's safeguarding policy.

We also discussed gender non confirming girls. There was an agreement that the language in the policy was rather clinical, and it could be interpreted as a strict instruction for a GNC girl to be removed from their unit. It was agreed that the policy language would be reviewed. This is particularly important as most trans issues within GG are, as you might expect, around girls who are transitioning.

One of the key issues for me is that girlguiding now offers single gender but mixed sex accommodation. I accept that the number of trans girls joining guides will be small compared to our overall membership - but it would only take one incident to cause huge harm to the children involved, their families and girlguiding. I suggested that GG might want to make the single gender / mixed sex aspect clearer, perhaps by adapting the standard consent form to advise parents that we don't guarantee single sex accommodation. Yet again, I was accused of wanting "out" individuals. That is not my intention at all.

I've heard nothing from girlguiding since. I will be following up on the action points. We will have a new CEO in June and updated EHRC guidance which will hopefully give all children equal rights to bodily privacy and autonomy, not just the trans kids.

redexpat Sat 19-May-18 21:28:53

I applaud your efforts. Fingers crossed for the next step.

UpstartCrow Sat 19-May-18 21:29:10

Thanks for doing this. Do GG have a stance on Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Romany girls who can't sleep in a tent or share a bathroom with biological males?

MipMipMip Sat 19-May-18 21:32:46

Well the changing of language about pushing out non gender conforming is good. I hope they make sure they trickle that down to the leaders.

I don't see how having a standards form could possibly out someone - using a non standard form on relevant occasions could. Amd by not telling people it's a possibility could well result in an angry parent learning about it and outing the child.They've got that wrong.

I am so sorry that is necessary for you to go through this. Thank you for doing so. I believe this could be very important, not just for guiding but for safeguarding UK wide.

AgnesBadenPowell Sat 19-May-18 21:35:22

Do GG have a stance on Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Romany girls who can't sleep in a tent or share a bathroom with biological males?

Not really, no. Certainly the email correspondence I received was that no one has to be a member of GG if they don't like the policies. In the meeting, it was also said that whatever they did would "discriminate against someone".

They don't give a shit, to be frank.

HerFemaleness Sat 19-May-18 21:36:55

This includes males who identify as females providing personal care to girls on residentials, a role which is strictly for female leaders only according to GG's safeguarding policy.

Say what now?

UpstartCrow Sat 19-May-18 21:38:58

I'm so shocked. I was a Guide and I don't recognise the organisation any more.

AgnesBadenPowell Sat 19-May-18 21:40:55

It's a strict rule of GG that a female leader has to be present when first aid is given and only a leader can provide personal care if it's needed.

GG said that their lawyers told them they have to treat anyone who identifies as a woman, as they would any other female.

I challenged them on how that fits with the personal care policy. Shrug of shoulders, "we have to treat people as the gender they identify as". I'll take that as a yes, males who identify as females can do personal care.

Bi11yOneMate Sat 19-May-18 21:49:25


OlennasWimple Sat 19-May-18 21:49:31

This just makes my head hurt

Child of GG leader who has been going on camps since he was a baby - whilst he says he is male, he must sleep, wash and change in segregated facilites...But as soon as he says "I am a girl" it's A-OK for the very same child to share the sleeping, washing and changing facilities with the rest of the GG??

Really? Can they not see how batshit crazy this is??

Ineedacupofteadesperately Sat 19-May-18 21:52:57

How are they going to deal with agender or non-binary genders if it's all about gender not biological sex? Is GG only going to be for ultra feminine kids of both sexes?

In the meeting, it was also said that whatever they did would "discriminate against someone".

I don't think that's true but if they think it is it's Interesting that all those they've chosen to discriminate against are all biological girls. Almost as if sex does matter, eh?

They don't give a shit, to be frank.

Yep, they don't give a shit about biological girls that's for sure.

Agnes thank you so much for what you're doing. Sadly, my girls won't be doing GG while this policy is in place.

AgnesBadenPowell Sat 19-May-18 21:58:00

Non binary people are not welcome as full members of guiding. Non binary adults can only take up roles that don't involve making the promise - the same restrictions that apply to males who identify as men.

"If an adult self-identifies as not being a woman then they are able to take volunteer roles that do not require them to complete a Leadership Qualification or to make their Promise. This includes the role of Unit Helper and support roles such as Adviser or Coordinator."

Dozer Sat 19-May-18 21:58:02

Their legal advice sounds wrong. When there are test cases it seems obvious that the wish of a transwoman employee or volunteer to be able to provide personal care to girls or women won’t be considered more important than the wishes, privacy and safety of those girls or women.

PerspicaciaTick Sat 19-May-18 21:59:23

I don't understand why, if they genuinely believe it is inevitable that someone will be discriminated against, the only group they are interested in protecting are transgender people. Is it because transgender voices are louder and more threatening than the voices of girls and their families?

Baroquehavoc Sat 19-May-18 22:00:23

Their legal advice sounds wrong

Makes me wonder if they consulted actual lawyers, or people who identify as lawyers.

PlectrumElectrum Sat 19-May-18 22:01:18

I think it should be mandatory for an organisation like this to publish that legal advice, including everything it's based upon, to justify their stance.

Thanks Agnes, I really appreciate your efforts on this.

PlectrumElectrum Sat 19-May-18 22:02:17

Makes me wonder if they consulted actual lawyers, or people who identify as lawyers.

Yy to this.

AgnesBadenPowell Sat 19-May-18 22:08:19

I'm under no doubt that this disregard if biological sex is a conscious choice made by Girlguiding. There are several links with GG and the trans lobby.

• Julie Bentley (CEO) is an old colleague and friend of Simon Blake. SB is the CEO of the NUS and deputy chair of Stonewall. He's also a governor at Bath Spa Uni - the same Uni that granted and then withdrew funding for research into detransition. I do not know if he had any involvement in that decision.

• One of the trustees is the CEO of Sheffield students union. The LGBT officer at Sheffield Uni, Eden Ladley, was named as one of the authors of the "how to deal with terfs" presentation that was circulated online

• the chief guide worked in IT at the citizens advice bureau for a number of years. As did Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids. I don't know if they know each other, this last point is pure speculation on my part

PerspicaciaTick Sat 19-May-18 22:14:01

As Guiding's USP was being a single sex organisation, I suspect that more families will simply opt to join Scouting instead (who seem to have slightly more robust policies for protecting all their children).

PlectrumElectrum Sat 19-May-18 22:16:46

It's shameful that so many connected people can be allowed to exert this level of influence without any proper scrutiny or consultation with the very people involved in the organisation whose efforts & commitment make guides what it is. I've no doubt that GG were deliberately targeted & its people like you Agnes that I'm so grateful for.

Ineedacupofteadesperately Sat 19-May-18 22:19:35

Makes me wonder if they consulted actual lawyers, or people who identify as lawyers. grin

The possibilities of self-ID are endless. I wonder if self-IDed women would be keen to be operated on by self-IDed doctors?

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 19-May-18 22:19:40

Would there be any mileage on reporting them to the charity commission as they have mad a unilateral change to their aims and objectives?

gendercritter Sat 19-May-18 22:20:30

What a load of shit!

Thank you for your continued efforts

BossWitch Sat 19-May-18 22:21:26

Well done Agnes, I'm so pleased you're fighting this.

AgnesBadenPowell Sat 19-May-18 22:22:06

Do you know what I would really like? For girlguiding to remain single sex and trans inclusive by accepting biological females regardless of their gender identity.

It won't ever happen, but I can dream.

I have a feeling I won't be in guiding for much longer so please keep sharing, keep writing, keep talking to your leaders. Please be brave and let GG know that it's not acceptable just to expect girls to give up one of the last female only spaces, as well as their right to privacy, dignity and autonomy.

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