Girlguiding settlement statement

Tuesday 19 April

We have been involved in a legal case with a former volunteer since 2018 and we have now reached a settlement. Please find our statement below.

Girlguiding's full statement regarding its legal case with Katie Alcock:

Girlguiding celebrates the ever-growing diversity of its membership. We are committed to balancing the views, needs and wants of all of our members in a complex and changing world. It’s important that we do this in a thoughtful and respectful way, reflecting our volunteer code of conduct. So we have a diversity and inclusion strategic plan which underpins our commitment to inclusion.

Girlguiding recognises that gender critical beliefs are protected under the Equality Act and that there are girls and volunteers who hold gender critical beliefs within our membership. We respect and value their right to do so, and to express those beliefs. Girlguiding is also, and shall remain, a home for trans people. Whatever their protected characteristics, all our young members and adult volunteers are welcome within Girlguiding.

Girlguiding is pleased that it has reached an agreement with Katie Alcock. We always value the bravery of women speaking up, which is aligned with Girlguiding’s purpose in empowering girls and young women.

We wish to thank Katie for the passion and commitment she has given to Girlguiding which has included running a unit for over 100 girls over the course of 10 years, as well as mentoring young leaders and new Adult Leaders.

We also acknowledge, and are saddened by, the impact that not being part of Girlguiding has had on Katie’s personal and family life. We have extended an invitation to her to re-apply to join Girlguiding.

We have listened carefully to Katie’s concerns. We understand them and take them seriously. Whilst these are complex and evolving issues, we agree that sex and gender are different, and will reflect this in the language we use.

The safeguarding and wellbeing of girls has and will always be at the heart of everything we do. We constantly review and update all our policies in line with government guidance and the law. We welcome constructive feedback from all of our volunteers, which helps ensure we have robust procedures in place. It is testament to the support of dedicated and passionate volunteers that we are able to use their input to refine and enhance what we do.

Our priority is to ensure that we offer a safe space where all girls are welcome to have fun, learn, and grow, and feel that they can be who they truly are. So all adult members are required to follow the same policies and procedures, including our Equality and Diversity policy and the Safeguarding policy, under which volunteers must report all concerns, allegations and disclosures. We have a dedicated specialist safeguarding team who support volunteers with questions or concerns.

We balance the needs of all our members with our legal obligations, relevant guidance and best practice, and will continue to offer support and guidance to members as they need it, and respond to girls, parents and volunteers who may have questions or concerns.

Girlguiding has agreed with Katie that as part of Girlguiding’s diversity and inclusion strategic plan, we will engage with new members, volunteers, parents, carers and girls to ensure our inclusive policies and procedures, and what they mean in practice, are easy to understand.

To ensure best practice Girlguiding continually reviews its procedures and guidance. It also consults with a broad range of external organisations and will consider organisations recommended by Katie.

Girlguiding has evolved for 110 years and will continue to evolve to ensure that it remains a forward-thinking, inclusive and diverse organisation where all girls, young women and volunteers feel welcome and belong. Through the skills, experience, and time of its 81,000 volunteers, Girlguiding empowers girls to find their voice, discover the best in themselves and make a positive difference in their community. Girlguiding is proud to be an inclusive and diverse organisation and will always remain so.