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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

Supporting Young People

Supporting Young People

Some ways you can make your section inclusive are:

  • Don't make assumptions about people’s sexual orientation. In a group of 30 young people, there's a good chance that at least one identifies as LGBTQ+.
  • People may use a wide range of labels people to describe their sexual orientation. For example, asexual, pansexual or questioning. Take the time to research these, so you feel comfortable in your knowledge of them if a young person or adult discusses their sexuality with you.
  • Consider the language used within your section. Think about the impact on Scouts who may be gay or questioning their sexual orientation. The misuse of ‘gay’ as a negative is common, such as “that’s so gay”. This may lead young people to equate their feelings as something wrong, which is damaging for their self-esteem, particularly if young people are just coming to terms with their sexuality.
  • Be vigilant for signs of homophobic bullying and language. This shouldn't be tolerated. See our guidance on preventing and dealing with bullying
  • Act as a role model or ally, regardless of your own sexual orientation, by being open and raising awareness about sexual orientation diversity. You don't need to be an expert. Adult volunteers who are open, offer positive messages and challenge homophobia will make a real difference in creating a more inclusive environment.

As a role model for young people, you may be approached about a wide range of issues, such as a young person telling you, directly or indirectly, they are gay or bisexual. This is commonly referred to as “coming out”.

The young person may be very nervous about speaking to someone about their sexual orientation, perhaps being worried about a negative reaction. The fact that they've decided to tell you indicates you're someone they feel they can trust.

There are a number of things you need to consider when a young person approaches you. Offering positive support and validation is vital, as it may even be the very first time they’ve told anyone.

  • Be positive and non-judgemental.
  • Let the young person talk, and don't be dismissive. If it’s not appropriate to discuss the matter there and then, arrange a time that’s convenient.
  • Hold the conversation in an appropriate environment. Conversations should be confidential, but with other adults within hearing or sight.
  • Conduct the conversation in accordance with the Yellow Card.
  • Reassure the young person that it's OK. There are many people in Scouts who're from the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Ensure the young person has the support they need.
  • Keep information about the young person’s sexual orientation confidential, unless given consent from the young person or if there are any safeguarding concerns. Coming out, in and of itself, isn’t a safeguarding concern.

At Scouts, we don't expect you to be an expert on this matter and we've provided contact details of relevant supporting organisations, which you can seek support from or put young people in touch with.

LGBTQ+ members can do everything that other members can do, but you can consider making adjustments for specific activities.

On nights away and camps:

  • Some LGBTQ+ individuals may prefer individual sleeping arrangements, so it’s best to discuss this prior to any camp/event.
  • As with any group of young people, sleeping arrangements should be planned around the particular circumstances, with the principle being that everyone's comfortable with the arrangements and no-one feels singled out.
  • Some LGBTQ+ individuals might prefer private changing areas, so it’s best to ask what their preference is prior to any nights away or camps.

On visits abroad:

  • Be aware that some countries aren't as open as the UK, legally and culturally. Check the laws for the county before you visit and plan ahead.

Local Scouts is reliant upon the input and support of the parents and carers within the group. All families are different. It’s important to be aware of supporting young people whose parents or carers are LGBTQ+, and reflect this in the language that you use.

You should take positive steps to ensure the parents and carers, as well as the young people, feel included welcomed into the wider network of Scout supporters.

It's vital to avoid assumptions, challenge language misuse and respond to any homophobia to ensure that young people don’t experience indirect bullying or feel unable to talk about who they live with.