Scouts Canada does not discriminate for reasons of sexual orientation or gender identity BP&P.
"Scouts Canada is committed to social justice including the promotion of gender and member diversity at all levels of the organization, both in its structures and programs and to the elimination of discrimination on the groups of race, gender, ethnicity, financial ability, sexual orientation, religion, disability or age."As such, leaders who may or may not have very much experience or knowledge in the area of sexual orientation or gender identity issues may find themselves facing a situation in which they need to confront them, either from youth participants or adult volunteers. This page contains resources that may be useful not only in approaching these issues properly and respectfully, but also in demonstrating Scouting's solidarity with sexual minority communities of Canadians.
--Scouts Canada ByLaw, Policies and Procedures Section 1003
Supporting Young LGBT2Q Scouts
Adult volunteers as persons in positions of trust with our youth. As such, they may find themselves in a situation where a LGBT2Q youth is disclosing their sexual orientation in confidence. The young person is likely to be very nervous about speaking to someone about their sexual orientation. There are a number of things you need to consider when a young person approaches you.
- Listen! If it is not appropriate to discuss the matter there and then, be sure to fix a time that is convenient so that the young person knows when they can discuss the matter with you.
- Make sure that you are talking in the correct environment. Conversations should be confidential but with other adults within hearing or sight.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: re-assure them that it is OK to be LGBT2Q and a Scout.
Be sure to remember to conduct conversation with young people in accordance with Scouts Canada's diversity policy. If you are uncomfortable to talk about this subject with the young person concerned, offer the young person details of a relevant organization in their area who are qualified to discuss and support the matter appropriately (See Resources Below). Scouts from sexual minorities as well as any other minority or cultural background are welcome in any of our groups, and as such our attitudes as leaders must be consistent with our Diversity policy. Homophobic bullying is an issue that affects LGBT2Q and straight youth alike based on perceived sexuality. There are resources on Bullying that not only address these issues, but other types of bullying.
- UK Scout Association - Supporting a young person who is gay and in Scouting
- UK Scout Association - It's OK to be Gay and a Scout!, advice for young people
- Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Help Line (Canada)
- Parents Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
- TransParent Canada
Resources for LGBT2Q Scouting Leaders
It's OK to be an adult in Scouting and to be gay! Throughout Scouts Canada there are adults in Scouting who identify as LGBT2Q. Some are open about their sexual orientation, others not. Either way, LGBT2Q members are part of the accepted and celebrated diversity of our membership and of Canadian Society. A leader's sexual orientation has no bearing on their suitability to fulfill a role in Scouting.
Outreach in Scouting may happen in very direct or indirect ways, nonetheless we should be open to reaching out to families in the LGBT2Q community to share in the experience of Scouting! Through our Scouting programmes, we may have a number of different opportunities of engaging LGBT2Q youth, adults, and communities in our movement.
Many Canadian cities and smaller communities hold annual Pride festivals. Why not consider one of the following to show Scouting's commitment to including a diverse set of membership in Canada...
- Enter a float or group into the parade. Wear your Scout Uniforms, carry the pride flag, and wear rainbow-coloured neckerchiefs.
- Set up a Scouts information booth at the festival. Offer an activity for youth, and provide information on local groups to festival-goers.
- Encourage members of Scouting to participate in planning committees or partner with the festival to establish an ongoing working relationship with the organizers.
Community Centre Work
If you have an LGBT2Q-focused community centre in your city, this is an excellent place to reach out to youth. In some circumstances, these centres may be open to the idea of sponsoring a new Scout group at their location. Pioneering such a group helps establish individuals from the LGBT2Q community that can network within Scouting and increase the amount of educational opportunities available to our membership.
Scouts Canada has been on the forefront of defending the rights of sexual minorities in Scouting. This article by the Los Angeles Times (USA) describes Canada's leading role from the context of the Boy Scouts in the United States. The article describes the 129th Toronto group, who in 1999 opened a LGBT2Q-themed Scout Group. The group openly accepted participants of any sexuality (including straight), as well as youth from various gender-identities that fall outside the normal gender binary.
Definitions / Glossary
"LGBT2Q" is an acronym referring to various communities of sexual minorities in our society. Other forms of this acronym may be seen.
- L = Lesbian: A woman who is sexually attracted to other women.
- G = Gay: a person who is sexually attracted to someone of the same sex, more commonly refers to men.
- B = Bi-sexual: a person who is sexually attracted to both men and women.
- T = Transgender: Appearing as, wishing to be considered as, or having undergone surgery to become a member of the opposite sex.
- 2 = 2-Spirited: A term that describes indigenous North Americans who fulfill one of the many mixed gender roles found traditionally among Canadian First-nations indigenous groups.
- Q = Questioning: a term used to refer to people who are exploring their gender, sexual identity and, sexual orientation.
- Homophobic: Fear of or contempt for Lesbians or Gay men.
- Sexual Orientation: The directions of a person's sex towards a person of the same, opposite, or both sexes.
- Sexual Status: The position relative to others relating to characteristics of Sex, including a person's sexual orientation.
- Straight: A person who is sexually attracted to the opposite sex.
- Genderqueer: A term used to describe gender identities other than man and woman. People who identify as Genderqueer may think of themselves as being both man and woman or as being neither man nor woman and therefore falling completely outside the gender binary.
- Hijra: In the culture of South Asia, hijras are physiological males who adopt feminine gender identity.
- Intersex: Refers to intermediate or atypical combinations of physical features that usually distinguish female from male. An intersex individual may have biological characteristics of both the male and the female sexes.