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Supporting Trans Young People

Scouting is about providing a positive, inclusive experience for all young people. We have put together the following information and guidance to support volunteers in making sure that trans members feel welcome and included in Scouting.

We hope that you find this useful and that it gives you the information you need. However there may be times when you need specific support and advice. For further support, please contact our Information Centre 0345 300 1818 or info.centre@scouts.org.uk.

How do I support current and new young members?
Every young person and situation will be different. You may be approached by a young person who tells you they are trans, who is planning to transition or who has already taken steps to do so. Equally, some young people may want to talk to the rest of the section about their identity and any changes they plan to make or have already done so, while others may not. A young person may be questioning their gender identity and be unsure if they are trans or not.

The first step to supporting any young person who tells you they are trans, or who is questioning their gender identity, is to listen without making any judgements or assumptions. Reassure them that Scouting is an inclusive movement and that they will always be welcome.

The next step is to ask if there is anything they might need to make them feel comfortable and included in the section. The young person may talk about:

A young person might not want to do anything at all, or may need some time to think about any adjustments they need, so let them know that they can always come back to talk to you.

What about confidentiality?
If a young person tells you that they are or thinks they might be trans, it is usually a positive sign that they trust you. Reassure the young person that you will not share this personal information with others (including volunteers, members, parents/carers) without their permission, unless you have concerns for their welfare or safety. Doing so could not only be distressing for that young person but, importantly, would put you at risk of breaking data protection laws.

However, it is helpful to talk to the young person about whether they have told anyone else (e.g. parents/carers/other members) and who else it might be helpful to speak to, to make sure they are fully supported and included in Scouting. This could be, for example, speaking to a leader in the next section a young person is moving to or asking if the young person would like another leader to know for occasions when you are not there. It is important to agree with the young person when and with who any further conversations will happen, and to make sure that you do not share information more widely than this.

Confidentiality should always be viewed in line with Scouting’s Yellow Card safeguarding code of practice. 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.

If you are unsure about a specific situation, worried about a potential data breach or just need further advice or guidance, you can contact the Scout Information Centre on 0845 300 1818 or info.centre@scout.org.uk.

What about safeguarding?
As with all young people, it is a safeguarding issue if a trans member is being abused, harassed or discriminated against.

Being trans in and of itself is not a safeguarding risk and must not be treated in that way.

If you believe that a young trans member’s welfare is at risk, it would be appropriate to disclose that they are trans if it is relevant to the situation, in line with Scouting’s Young People First Yellow Card code of practice and protocols. This should be dealt with in a sensitive and considered way, minimising any further distress for the young person.

If you have any safeguarding concerns, or need safeguarding advice or guidance, please contact the Scouts Information Centre 0845 300 1818 or Safeguarding team on safeguarding@scouts.org.uk.

How do I make sure my section is inclusive?
As well as listening to the young person, there are lots of simple, practical things you can do to make sure current or new trans members will feel welcome in your section:

To make sure a current trans member feels included:

How do I manage nights away?
All young members should be involved in advance when planning trips away to make sure they feel happy and comfortable with the arrangements. There are lots of reasons why young people will have different requirements on trips. For many trans young people, privacy will be an important consideration. Making adjustments and being flexible will ensure that everyone feels able to join in.

Arrangements for trips should always be in line with Scouting’s risk assessment and Yellow Card procedures.

To make sure all members feel included you can:.

For trans members, it may be useful to create a plan to record any agreed adjustments, being mindful of confidentiality. Some young people will have made similar arrangements for school trips which could be a useful starting point.

And trips abroad?
When planning trips abroad, be aware that some countries actively discriminate against trans people. You will need to consider this in any international planning. For further information, please contact the Information Centre 0845 300 1818.

How do I manage toilets, showers and changing facilities?
Trans young people should be able to use the toilets or facilities of the gender they identify as. Talk to the young person about which facilities they would like to use at regular meeting places and on residential trips. Remember most young people would prefer privacy when using facilities. Providing a range of options to everyone will not only avoid a trans person feeling singled out, uncomfortable or unsafe using facilities, but will probably make everyone else in the section feel more comfortable too.

These practical ideas will help you to make sure everyone feels comfortable:

Do I need to adjust activities?
Trans young people may feel particularly anxious about their physical appearance or abilities. Some may feel uncomfortable taking part in activities that require physical contact or wearing certain clothing, such as swimwear for water-based activities. The reality is that lots of young people may feel anxious around activities for different reasons, so it is helpful to routinely involve members in the planning process, giving them time and opportunities to raise any concerns in the group or privately.

As with any young person, avoid making any assumptions. Speak to the member in advance about any concerns, adjustments they might need or alternative activities that they would prefer. Offering alternative activities to all members will not only ensure the trans young person doesn’t feel singled out, but might well make other members feel more able to participate too.

How should I work with parents and carers?
If a young person has confided in you that they are trans, sensitively discuss with them whether they have told their parents or carers.

If they have then, in agreement with the young person, this could be a great opportunity to reassure their parents or carers that Scouting is a welcoming and inclusive movement. It may also be useful to discuss and agree together any needs or adjustments that might be made for the young person.

If the young person has not told their parents or carers, you should not breach their confidentiality by doing so without their consent. Some young people may feel anxious about telling their parents or carers, and may appreciate your support in finding a way to do so. However this should be led by them.

As with any young person, if you are concerned for their welfare, follow Scouting’s Yellow Card code of practice. If you need to seek advice and guidance from the Scout Information Centre 0845 300 1818 or info.centre@scout.org.uk.

What about parents and carers of other Scouts in my section?
Parents and carers may have general questions about trans people, or if there is a trans member in your group. You must not disclose confidential information about a trans young person to other parents and carers without that young person’s consent. Even if a young member is openly trans it is important that their identity does not become a talking point in the section. You can direct parents and carers to the Scouting for All pages and to Scouting’s equal opportunities policy. Let them know that as a leader your priority is to makesure that all members feel welcome, comfortable and included in Scouting, and that we often make adjustments for different young people as part of this.

How do I respond to any volunteers in my District/County who are not inclusive of trans Members?
Volunteers should be reminded of their commitment to Scouting’s Equal Opportunities Policy and their line manager should support them to change their practice. Often, taking steps to raise awareness or understanding can help. This could involve discussion, or it may be useful to arrange an awareness raising session in your District/County. Our national team of Specialist Advisors for Inclusion and Diversity may be able to support you with this.

It is the responsibility of all adults to act as role models by celebrating diversity and creating an environment in which all members can enjoy safe, inclusive Scouting.

You may also find the following organisations useful in providing further support and information about young people who are trans or questioning their gender identity:

Gendered Intelligence
Stonewall
GIRES
Mermaids
FLAGS

 

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