Girlguiding’s leaders have issued a statement pushing back strongly against newspaper reports which suggest its policy towards transgender people puts girls at risk.
The charity's equality and diversity policy says that anyone self-identifying as a girl or woman will be treated as such. Two guide leaders were expelled recently from the organisation after raising concerns about the safeguarding risk presented by the policy.
But a joint statement yesterday from Amanda Medler, the chief guide and Ruth Marvel, the acting chief executive, says that keeping girls safe is the charity’s number one priority, and that its procedures do not put girls at risk.
“Simply being transgender does not make someone more of a safeguarding risk than any other person,” the statement says.
“Keeping girls, young women and our adult volunteers safe is our number one priority. We’re really proud of our robust safeguarding procedures which apply to everyone and underpin everything volunteers and girls do in guiding.
“We are deeply saddened that anyone would suggest that we would knowingly put our young members at risk.”
The statement says that in a survey, 86 per cent of members indicated support for the policy it has implemented.
And it says that it was not acceptable for the expelled guide leaders to refuse to follow the organisation’s code of conduct, or encourage others to do the same.
“Refusing to comply with our policies is unacceptable,” the statement said. “Unfortunately, the circumstances meant that we had no choice but to withdraw these individuals’ membership. This decision was not based on their personal views, but on the way they conducted themselves.”
One of the expelled volunteers was on the programme for an unofficial fringe event at the Labour Party Conference to speak about safe places for women to speak about her opposition to Girlguiding's policy.