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Gender identity: Supporting adult volunteers

This page contains practical guidance on supporting adult volunteers with gender identity issues. For general information, please see Gender Identity

The Scout Association is committed to diversity and inclusion, and is open to all people regardless of their gender identity.

People who are transgender have a right to be treated as their acquired gender, regardless of what (if any) medical or legal steps they have taken.

Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, placing similar obligations on organisations as is required for disability, whether or not the person is undergoing medical treatment. Discrimination or harassment is against the law, and there is a duty to make reasonable adjustments to ensure that trans Members can access Scouting, including anticipating the needs of any future members.

How can I support a volunteer who is transgender?

What facilities should the person use?
The person has a right to use the toilet facilities of their acquired gender. However, if they are not comfortable with this (particularly if they have recently transitioned) and they may wish to use a unisex toilet (e.g. accessible / disabled toilet) instead.

What do I need to think about when planning trips or events?

Be aware that some countries are not as open as the UK, legally and culturally. Some may even have laws which make it illegal to be part of the transgender community. Check the laws for the county before you visit, and plan ahead. Consider any border crossing processes e.g. airport security screening. 

How does this affect the Appointments Process?
Be aware that the Adult Application (AA) form asks applicants to state any previous names they have been known by, as it incorporates the information needed for a DBS (previously CRB) check. Therefore, for applicants who are transgender, please contact or signpost to the Vetting Team, who can deal with the person’s application separately. (They do not have to list their previous names.)

It is a criminal offence for anyone acquiring information about a person’s gender recognition history in an ‘official capacity’, to disclose this to another person, without consent of the person (Gender Recognition Act, 2004).

How can I support someone undergoing gender reassignment or transition during their role?
A current adult volunteer may inform you that they will be changing their physical appearance, from their birth gender to their acquired gender. Careful preparation and planning is needed, to support the volunteer.

We would recommend a private discussion with the volunteer, to discuss how they would like to proceed and how you can support them. You can discuss a range of options, as appropriate, including:

It may be appropriate to plan (alongside the volunteer) a discussion with young people or parents/carers. In this case, we recommend the following is considered, when working together to determine the best course of action:

It is important to update all communication and records as soon as possible, to the correct pronouns and name. You do not need to ask for proof for their records to be altered (e.g. to show their Gender Recognition Certificate).

How do I respond to any volunteers in my District/County who are not inclusive of transgender Members?
Volunteers should be reminded of their commitment to our Equal Opportunities Policy and their line manager should support them to change their practise. Often, a lack of awareness or understanding can be to blame, and some education may be needed. This could involve discussion, or it may be useful to arrange an awareness raising session in your District/County. Our National Active Support Unit, FLAGS or our national team of Specialist Advisers 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.

Guidance created in partnership with The Gender Trust.

For any further questions related to Scouting, please contact info.centre@scouts.org.uk

Contacts for additional support

FLAGS: Our national Scout Active Support Unit, supporting LGBT adults in Scouting.
Website: http://www.flagscouts.org.uk/

Gender Trust: Charity supporting trans people and all those affected by gender identity issues, and awareness raising. 
Website: http://gendertrust.org.uk
Email: info@gendertrust.org.uk
Telephone: 01527 894 838

Website: http://www.gires.org.uk/
Including free e-learning http://www.gires.org.uk/elearning/new/player.html

Trans Media watch:
Help and advice on media intrusion for transpeople and groups that support them.


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Charity Numbers 306101 (England and Wales) and SC038437 (Scotland).
Registered address: The Scout Association, Gilwell Park, Chingford, London, England E4 7QW