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UK Girl Guides shuts down two groups after leaders questioned pro-transgender policy

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LONDON, September 24, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Parents in the United Kingdom don’t have a right to know if their daughters will be sharing facilities with male children, according to Girlguiding UK (GGUK), nor can guide leaders question the policy.

GGUK is a Scouting-like organization that teaches girls ages 5-18 a variety of life skills through various group activities. Its current guidelines call for “includ[ing] all young members - including trans people - in activities and residentials” and striving to make gender-confused children feel “comfortable and supported.”

In particular, the website states that “trans” people do “not have to disclose to you if they are trans,” that it’s illegal to tell others that a legal adult is “trans” without their permission, that it’s “still good practice not to tell other people” about a minor’s “perceived” gender “unless they have given you permission to do so,” and that “It is not a requirement - or best practice - to tell parents that a trans person will be attending a residential event.”

Former GGUK Chief Executive Julie Bentley said last year that members would be "allowed to use the facilities of the gender they self-identify as," such as showers, tents, and restrooms. 

The policy alarmed more than 900 current and former guide leaders, children’s advocates, feminists, and other concerned individuals who signed an open letter in April arguing that “trans inclusion, whilst laudable, must not sacrifice the privacy, safety or inclusion of female members.”

“Male children who identify as girls can share sleeping, changing and washing facilities with females,” the letter reads. “It is estimated that 65,000 cases of child sexual abuse are committed by other children each year. Most perpetrators are male, most victims are female. Segregating by sex, regardless of gender identity, is safeguarding common sense.”

The statement also asserted that “biological sex matters,” but if Girlguiding was based instead on an “inner sense of being a girl,” the result would be reducing “girlhood itself” to “feeling, looking or behaving ‘like a girl’, which reinforces the very stereotypes that GGUK’s own research shows are harmful.”

GGUK has now expelled two of the signatories and closed down their units, as well as initiated disciplinary action against five others, The Sun reports.

“I was expelled on Friday for questioning how the trans policy conflicts with established safeguarding protocols, principles of informed consent and respecting girls’ boundaries, and for objecting to leaders being encouraged to manage gender non conforming girls out of their units (whether the girl wants to leave or not),” Helen Watts, who led an Ealing unit for fifteen years, announced on social media.

“Following an independent investigation, two individuals were found to have breached our Volunteer Code of Conduct by indicating they are not willing to follow Girlguiding’s Equality and Diversity Policy; as well as breach our Social Media Policy,” the group said in a statement. It insisted the decision was based “not on their personal views,” and said the punished individuals have fourteen days to file an appeal.

“I am very upset and I am also really angry. We had some serious concerns about a policy that ignored basic safeguarding principles,” Watts told the Sunday Times. “The policy puts all leaders in a really difficult position. It contradicts other inclusion policies - for certain faith communities for instance - and it completely contradicts existing policies around informed parental consent.”

The other expelled leader, who has not been publicly identified, said the transgender policy “conflicted with the safety of girls in my care.” Both have threatened legal action against Girlguiding if they are not reinstated.

Bentley, the former head of the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Family Planning Association of the UK, led GGUK from November 2012 to the end of June 2018. In 2013, the group removed references to God and country from its oath, instead having girls pledge to “be true to myself and develop my beliefs,” and serve the “community.”

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