Monday 20 May 2019

Girl Guides preparing to welcome transgender children

CEO Linda Peters said that the move was being discussed
CEO Linda Peters said that the move was being discussed

Chai Brady

Boys could be welcomed into Girl Guides Ireland - if they identify as a girl.

New guidelines from the Girlguiding organisation in the UK have outlined how it wanted to welcome boys to the organisation who "self-identify" as girls.

It said the group aimed to "support all girls and young women... this is understood in terms of the way a person self-identifies their gender identity - a person's inner sense of self".

This means that if a boy "self-identifies" as a girl, he can join his local guide unit without, for example, having to dress as a girl.

The rules have been published as part of an updated policy on equality and diversity.

Linda Peters, chief executive officer of the Irish Girl Guides, said the organisation was also considering such a policy.

"Our policy is that anyone who lives their life as a female is welcome to join our organisation," she told the Irish Independent.

"We're taking direction from the Girl Guides in Canada and we're going to develop a guideline for our leaders.

"We asked their permission to adopt their guidelines if it suited us, but ours may be slightly different."

Ms Peters said that the issue of transgender children had been raised in Ireland before the UK move.

"We had our board meeting on Saturday and there was mention of transgender children," she said.

"We have a committee specifically for equality diversity and inclusion, and we had a large meeting of all our committees over the weekend and we were looking at the guidelines."


"It was coincidental as we were driving back that [Girlguiding] UK had issued a press statement that they had released their policy on transgender children."

But Ms Peters said that the proposed changes would require input from parents and committee members.

"It's not something that you throw together; there needs to be a lot of consultation," she said.

The UK guidelines say there should be "flexibility and discretion" shown.

They also state that it is not "best practice" to tell parents that their daughters in the Girl Guides will be sharing facilities such as sleeping areas and toilets with transgender girls, who were born male. This might arise during, for example, camping trips away.

When asked about whether parents should be informed if there is a transgender child going on a trip with the other children, Ms Peters said this was another area that was up for consultation.

"We will be consulting someone with prior experience. Up until now there's only one member in our organisation that has a transgender child and we would like to consult with her. We want to take time to think this through, as it could have big implications," she said.

Girlguiding UK has long been a single-sex organisation, with its chief executive Julie Bentley, a leading campaigner for abortion rights and greater access to contraception, describing it as "the ultimate feminist organisation".

Irish Independent

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