For more than a year, Girlguiding HQ have repeatedly ignored safeguarding concerns, leaving worried Leaders with no other option than to launch a public campaign to alert parents. Rebel Leaders have now teamed up with FairPlay for Women and together we have created the ‘Sisters To All Guides’ campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Mumsnet. We are urgently calling for the suspension of the Guides’ trans policy pending a nationwide public consultation with all Leaders, parents and young members. We also want Girlguiding to conduct and publish the findings of a wide-ranging impact assessment in accordance with Equality Law.
This campaign has attracted hundreds of shocked supporters during its launch over Easter weekend. Parents and Leaders have bravely stepped forward to add their voice to the public campaign. Here is a passionate and heart-felt Twitter response from one of our supporters.
“I am SO grateful for this. I thought I was alone. I didn’t dare tell my Regional Leader why I was taking a break from Rainbows. I couldn’t in good conscience ignore it and carry on.
The breaking point was when one of my 5-year-olds asked why Rainbows was just for girls and I realised I couldn’t answer her because all of the reasons (to enable girls to flourish to their true potential away from the impact of male socialisation) were no longer true. I said it was because ‘girls are special’. She swung her legs on her too-big-chair and said ‘I’m a girl, I’m not a boy. I’m glad I’m a girl’. I had to turn away because it brought tears to my eyes.
How can we take that away from our girls? We work so hard to destroy gender stereotypes (we had a superhero party and I ensured all of the superheroes were female (no easy task!), I, of all the Leaders, was the only one to suggest we ask the girls what party they wanted rather than automatically having a ‘Disney princess’ party, yet when I mentioned the whole furore over John Lewis de-gendering their children’s ranges another Leader responded with ‘Yeah, people really need to check their cis-privilege’ – same Leader suggested I was unrealistic in suggesting a superhero party cos she said they’d all want Disney princesses! She said ‘we can’t undo ingrained stereotypes’! Isn’t that our job?! They’re 5, not 15 – it’s our responsibility to do just that!
Anyway, here’s some ugly truth: any woman can turn up at a Rainbows session and ask to volunteer that week. And we’re not allowed now to say no to a man who asks ‘in case he identifies as a woman’. And we’re not allowed to ask if he thinks he’s a woman. And then he can become a volunteer, which means he can supervise 5-year-old girls using the loo (because Rainbows Leaders supervise the girls when they use the loo because they’re 5 years old). And yes, DBS checks are carried out – about 8 weeks after you start volunteering.
Leaving aside that awful potential result of that, do we want men who think they’re women, and express it by conforming to every gender stereotype going, to be role models for our 5-year-old girls when we’re trying in our 1 hour a week to be free from that?
And do we want our female Leaders to set the example to our girls of being second class citizens to men by allowing their male socialisation into our group and to be too scared to challenge it for fear of being called a bigot? Women behave differently when men are in the room. And especially so when their focus is on not offending the transgender-identifying male in the room rather than on our girls. Do we want our Leaders’ minds to be concentrating on policing their own reactions to ensure they’re not ‘transphobic’ rather than on being themselves in their all-female environment?
I would not be a Leader in a Guiding group with a transgender male for the reasons above, and because why would a transgender male want to be a Rainbows Leader? Certainly not for the girls’ benefit, and if they don’t get that, they shouldn’t be a Leader. So I left.
Oh, and this has to be pointed out: Scouts is now for boys and girls. A boy who thinks he’s a girl or a girl who thinks she’s a boy can stay in Scouts. They’re catered for. Guiding is still single sex because single-sex guiding is STILL NEEDED for girls. Even more so now!!
The Rainbow Promise includes ‘I promise that I will think about my beliefs’. Allowing transgender-identifying males to be Rainbow Leaders is TELLING our girls what to believe – that this man is a ‘woman’. What if they think about it and realise they don’t believe it? They’re not allowed to”.
If you support us you can add your voice on Twitter using the hashtag #sisterstoallguides or add a comment to our public Facebook page ‘Sisters to All Guides‘.