We’re shouting for Scouting

Ching-He Huang

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The Scouts is a family that moves with the times. We have members from all walks of life and are committed to equality, diversity and inclusion. Actions, however, speak louder than words. That’s why we were shouting for Scouting at Portsmouth Pride last Saturday.

According to Stonewall, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic (HBT) language and bullying are widespread in UK secondary schools, affecting young people’s well-being as well as their attendance and attainment.

More than half of lesbian, gay and bisexual young people experience homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools – 99 per cent hear the phrases ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘you’re so gay’.

For young people, having a safe space to be themselves is vitally important to support personal development and emotional wellbeing.

Scouting provides this space, outside the constraints of formal education and a managed distance from the expectations of family.

We’re an inclusive movement, refusing to discriminate against young people or adults for any reason. We reinforce this commitment through our actions, like always challenging homophobic language.

Our visible appearance at Pride marches all over the country is a representation of our ongoing commitment to inclusion and diversity. And for the young people in the parade, wearing the rainbow neckerchief, it can be a life-defining experience.

We’re committed to making Scouting accessible to all.

Earlier this year, Hampshire Scouts in Hospitals celebrated its first birthday party at Southampton General Hospital and regularly volunteer at Naomi House Children’s Hospice too.

What’s more, two years ago our #BetterPrepared project set out to bring Scouting to 200 areas with low incomes, high unemployment, high crime, poor health and poor housing – all things which can prevent individuals from shining.

When Robert Baden-Powell founded Scouting in 1907 he wanted it to be for everyone no matter what their background. When he ran his original camp on Brownsea Island in Poole Harbour, Dorset, he took young people from London’s East End and mixed them with those from a more privileged background.

Making Scouting available to all is in our DNA and it’s something we’re really passionate about.

Now we’re more diverse than ever, bridging community divides and with more than 144,000 girls and women in the movement today we talk more about Scouting for All than Scouting for Boys. We welcome people into the movement regardless of social background, gender, sexuality, faith and no faith.

In the past it might have been just tying knots and camping, but today you can get badges for PR, circus skills, street sports and digital skills. By welcoming young people in, and providing them with these activities and opportunities, we help them develop new skills, new values and the confidence to be the best that they can be.

The Scout Association is open to all young people and adults regardless of their sexuality or gender identity. We have a clear Equal Opportunities Policy and attend Pride events to demonstrate our commitment to equality. We openly welcome LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) members, have volunteers specialising in diversity (including our national team of specialist advisors) and even a national unit supporting LGBT adults in Scouting FLAGS.