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Volunteering at Scouts is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing to help us reach more young people

Volunteering is changing at Scouts. Read more

Discover what this means

Pronoun pairs

Learn about pronouns, gender neutral language, and what to do if you misgender someone in this quick card matching game.

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You’ll need

  • Pens or pencils
  • Device with access to the internet
  • Paper
  • Blank stickers
  • Printed copies of pronoun pairs cards
Pronoun Pairs Matching Cards
PDF – 2.3MB

Before you begin 

  • Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. There's additional guidance to carry out your risk assessment, including examples. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely. 
  • Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers. 

Planning this activity

  • Before the session, print the pronoun pair cards (enough for each group). 
  • Some people may be in the process of questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity or may not have shared their identity with anyone. Make sure everyone knows they don’t have to share anything about themselves if they don’t want to. It’s important that everyone feels comfortable in this activity, as well as knowing how they can access support. 
  • Young people may share aspects of their identity that may be new to them, new to you or new to the rest of your group. This is a very brave thing to do, and it's extremely personal and different for everyone. Make sure you look out for these individuals and provide a safe and calm space for them to process their emotions. Make sure to model affirming responses to anything shared by your young people.
  • There's a range of labels young people and adult volunteers may use to describe their sexual orientation or gender identity. For example, asexual, pansexual, non-binary, or questioning. Take the time to research these, so you feel comfortable in your knowledge of them should a young person or adult want to discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity with you.
  • It's the responsibility of all adults in Scouts to help develop a caring and supportive atmosphere where bullying in any form is unacceptable. Look out for any signs of homophobic and/or transphobic bullying and language. See our guidance on preventing and dealing with bullying. You may want to create a zero-tolerance policy towards LGBTQ+ bullying or discrimination within your section or group rules.   
  • You may want to visit our LGBTQ+ pages to find out more about supporting LGBTQ+ members in Scouts. This includes guidance on how to support someone who 'comes out' at Scouts. 'Coming out' is when someone first tells another person or people about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Gender identity – Gender identity is how you identify and see yourself. Everyone gets to decide their gender identity for themselves. You may identify as a girl or a boy. If you don’t feel like a boy or a girl, you might identify as agender, genderqueer, non-binary or just as a person. You may choose not to use any specific term to define your gender identity, or you may use a term today that you decide later doesn’t fit. You’ve a right to identify however you want, and your identity should be respected. 

Non-binary  - Someone might describe themselves as non-binary if their gender identity doesn’t fit comfortably with ‘boy’ or ‘girl’, or ‘man’ or ‘woman’. They don’t feel like just a boy or just a girl – they might feel like both, neither or something else.  Everyone is different and non-binary means different things to different people.

Gender expression – Gender expression is how you want to display your gender. People express their gender in a variety of ways. This includes the way that we talk, our mannerisms, how we interact with others, our clothing, accessories, hairstyles, activities we enjoy and much more! 

Sex assigned at birth – Your sex assigned at birth is what the medical community labels you when you’re born. If your gender identity matches the sex assigned to you at birth, then you’re cisgender. If your gender identity doesn't match the sex assigned to you at birth, then you may identify as transgender or non-binary.

Gender attribution – Gender attribution is how your gender is perceived by others. This can change depending on the people you’re around, the country you’re in, or even the time period. 

Misgendering - Misgendering is when someone, accidently or otherwise, refers to or describes someone in a way that doesn't match up with their gender identity, for example using the wrong pronouns or name.


What are pronouns? 

  1. Explain to everyone that you’re going to be discussing pronouns. Tell everyone that pronouns are words used to refer to a person instead of their name.  
  2. Explain that pronouns often also refer to the person’s gender, such as ‘she/her’ or ‘he/him’. However, people can also use gender-neutral pronouns, such as ‘they/them’ or ‘ze/zir’. Some people may be comfortable with more than one set of pronouns being used for them, for example “she/her” and “they/them”. 
  3. Explain that a lot of people may have had negative reactions, experienced bullying or abuse, or been discriminated against because they’re part of the LGBTQ+ community and this isn’t acceptable. Tell everyone that at Scouts, we welcome and accept everyone, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. By taking part in this activity and learning about pronouns, we can celebrate the inclusion and diversity we’re so proud of. 
  4. To show respect for people, we need to use the pronouns that they feel most comfortable with. By respecting someone’s pronouns, we make feel people included and remind people that they’re loved and accepted for who they are. We can also show support to the LGBTQ+ community by being non-judgemental, avoiding assumptions and being accepting of everyone, challenging language misuse and reporting any homophobic or transphobic bullying to an adult.
  5. Give everyone a blank name sticker, including adults and young leaders. Ask people to write down their name and pronouns if they feel comfortable to. This’ll help everyone understand how best to refer to each other.  
  6. Remind everyone that providing space and opportunity for people to share their pronouns doesn’t mean that everyone feels comfortable or needs to share their pronouns. It should be optional. 

Watch the video 

  1. If you’ve access to a device with the internet, play this ‘What are pronouns?’ video for the group.   
  2. In the video they talked about how pronouns make an impact on people.  
  3. Ask everyone how did they see using the right pronouns with people making a difference?  
  4. Ask what steps can we take towards using the right pronouns for people? As members of Scouts, we have all made a promise to keep the Scout Law. This includes promising to be inclusive, kind, caring, friendly, considerate and respectful others.

Practising pronouns 

  1. Tell everyone that being aware of people’s pronouns and making a conscious effort to speak to and about people in a respectful way can take practise.  
  2. Explain that we can all make mistakes and might get it wrong sometimes. We just need to always try our best. 
  3. Ask the group what they would do if they misgendered someone? Let a few people who feel comfortable to answer explain what they think. 
  4. After some discussion, tell everyone that if they do make a mistake and accidentally use the wrong pronoun for someone, they should correct themselves and carry on with what they were saying.   
  5. Explain that everyone makes mistakes, and it's important to acknowledge your mistake by apologising and correcting yourself. This can be as simple as saying “sorry I mean...”. However, it’s not the responsibility of the person who was misgendered to address your feelings after misgendering them, and continuously apologising could make them feel uncomfortable.

Putting it into practise 

  1. Tell everyone that they’re going to now practise getting these pronouns right. Ask everyone to get into small teams and distribute a pack of each set of cards to each group.  
  2. Explain that there are animal cards and topic cards.  
  3. Tell everyone there are three different animal cards, and each animal uses different pronouns. 
    • Sam the dog uses ‘he/him’ pronouns. 
    • Leslie the ladybird uses ‘she/her’ pronouns. 
    • Billy the butterfly is non-binary. For Billy, this means they aren't a boy or a girl. Billy uses ‘they/them’ pronouns.  
  4. Tell everyone there are topic cards, which tell you an action, such as ‘ate a sandwich’. 
  5. For each turn one person is going to be the ‘dealer’. This could be an adult volunteer or young leader to start with. The dealer should switch to a different person after each turn, so you may want to be in a circle to play the game.  
  6. To play, the dealer will flip over an animal card and a topic card.  
  7. Whoever says a sentence on the topic using the correct pronouns for the animal gets to keep the topic card. For example, if it was Billy and ‘ate a sandwich’, the answer would be ‘they ate a sandwich’. 
  8. The person with the most topic cards at the end of the game wins.  
  9. Once everyone’s finished playing, gather everyone back together. Ask everyone why they think it's important to respect and use people's pronouns.
  10. Let a few people who are happy to explain their thoughts. 


As Scouts, we’ve all made a promise to keep the Scout Law and live by the Scout values. This includes committing to being caring, kind and having respect for others. As Scouts, we always need to remember to treat people with care and respect, even if our beliefs are different. 

If you did, how did it feel to share your pronouns with everyone? What ways can we help other people make their identities feel valued and welcome?  

It can feel awkward or forced when you start implementing gender-neutral language. That’s normal. The important thing is to keep at it, so that it has a chance to become a part of your everyday communication.  

What other ways can we make a change in how we speak to make our language more gender-neutral?  

For example, using ‘sibling’ rather than ‘brother or sister’, ‘everyone’ instead of ‘ladies and gentlemen’ or ‘boys and girls’. You could use ‘parent’, ‘carer’ or ‘grown up’ rather than ‘Mum and Dad’. Why’s it important to make sure we use inclusive language? 


All activities must be safely managed. You must complete a thorough risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Always get approval for the activity, and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

Electrical equipment

Inspect cables for any damage before each use. A responsible adult should supervise people using equipment, and people should follow instructions on how to use them correctly and safely. They should be properly maintained and stored. Be extra cautious of trailing cables and water when using electric equipment.

If people are struggling switching between using different pronouns, you may want to use one animal at a time. For example, you’d use all the topics for Sam the dog in the first round and race to say the sentence, then starting again with Billy the butterfly, and so on. 

  • Make sure to create the cards large enough for everyone to be able to see or read them. For anyone who may not be able to read the words clearly, consider making the words larger, using an easy to read and large print font.
  • For anyone who may not be able to read or see the words and images clearly, you could let people play in pairs, so everyone can be supported to take part. A pair would then play against another pair. 

All Scout activities should be inclusive and accessible.

You may want to use this activity to help celebrate Pride Month which is in June.  

Keep practising including different pronouns. See if you can find anything about Scouts or your meeting place that you could make more inclusive of different gender identities, such as having space to add pronouns on name labels or consent forms.

Invite people who use gender neutral pronouns into your group to talk about their experiences and gender identity.   

You could continue practising using gender neutral language by writing a short story or article about someone is non-binary. This can be used towards the Scout Writer activity badge.  

Everyone can be involved in sharing their own ideas and experiences if they’re comfortable to.