LGBTQ+ members

Celebrate and support LGBTQ+ members

As a charity for all girls we strive to make sure that every girl and young woman is given equal access to the opportunities that we offer.

This can mean that we need to take a more bespoke approach on a case by case basis. So we invite all our leaders, or volunteers, who require support or advice on including any young members to use the resources and guidance available.

If you can't find what you need, or you want to talk things through with someone to make sure you are meeting the requirements of our equality and diversity policy, get in touch with your local commissioner or with the national info team for bespoke help and advice.

How you can create an environment where young members and volunteers can truly be themselves

It's vital that guiding remains a safe space for LGBTQ+ members - especially since they are still likely to experience discrimination elsewhere. Our guidance on sexuality and gender identity are designed to help you make a safe environment in your unit.

Planning activities and residentials

Find out more about some key considerations for including young trans members in activities, weekly meetings and residentials.

Join us at Pride

We have a presence at Pride events throughout the UK. These are planned and delivered by volunteers locally, with support offered at country and region level. If you'd like to get involved, contact your commissioner to find out if there are events happening near to you. Check out our top tips for going to a Pride event, too!

Attending Pride events reinforces our policy of being fair, open and inclusive. It highlights that members and supporters are welcomed irrespective of their faith, race, culture, nationality, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Pride events also offer the opportunity to celebrate the brilliant contributions of all our LGBTQ+ members, and to reach out to volunteers who may not have considered guiding before.

Trans people are supported and protected by three main laws:

  • Equality Act 2010
  • General Data Protection Regulation/Data Protection Act 2018
  • Gender Recognition Act 2004

The broad aim of these laws is to maximise the inclusion of trans people, prevent discrimination, harassment and victimisation, and protect privacy. These laws underpin Girlguiding’s approach to trans inclusion and key summary points about each are set out below.

Please note that while it’s useful to know which laws apply and broadly what they say, current UK laws are not a statement of best practice, nor are they wholly clear. They don’t cover every circumstance we may encounter.

The practical guidance we give for supporting trans young members and supporting trans volunteers has been informed by our value of inclusion. For further support and guidance members can contact HQ or see our list of support organisations for additional advice.

Equality Act 2010 – key points

  • This law makes discrimination against, harassment of and victimisation of those with certain protected characteristics unlawful.
  • It works by highlighting nine protected characteristics in respect of which the above behaviours are unlawful, it also explains in which circumstances it is unlawful.
  • One of these nine characteristics is sex (whether you are male or female) and another is gender reassignment, which in loose terms equates to being trans. More specifically it is defined as ‘a person has the protected characteristic of gender reassignment if the person is proposing to undergo, is undergoing or has undergone a process (or part of a process) for the purpose of reassigning the person’s sex by changing physiological or other attributes of sex’.
  • Gender reassignment is a self-identified characteristic – there is no need for anyone else to ‘confirm’ someone is trans, or for the trans person to have started any kind of physical or other transition attributed to sex, such as clothing. There is also no need for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) for those over age 18.
  • The Equality Act provides options for exemptions. This means that in certain, very limited circumstances, it is permissible to restrict membership to those who share certain protected characteristics. Girlguiding uses an exemption to provide a girl-only space for its young members.
  • A person does not need to have had, or to want, any medical intervention to be protected by this law.
  • It protects people of all ages under the protected characteristic of gender reassignment.

In addition:

  • The law protects those who are discriminated against or harassed because someone thinks they are trans, even if they are not (discrimination by perception).
  • The law protects those who are discriminated against or harassed because they are associated with someone who is trans, such as a friend, sibling, colleague or parent (discrimination by association).

General Data Protection Regulation/Data Protection Act 2018

  • This law protects the rights of all individuals – including trans individuals – to privacy in relation to their personal information.
  • We are therefore obliged under this law to respect your, and others’, rights to privacy.
  • Information which identifies a particular individual as trans, or having a trans history, is treated as sensitive personal information.

You can read our managing information policyour privacy notice and related guidance to learn what this means for Girlguiding.

Gender Recognition Act 2004

  • This law enables some trans people to make a legal change of gender and sex by obtaining a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC).
  • It enables the issue of a new birth certificate and confers the right to marry, be taxed and receive a pension in that gender. These three things are basically all it affects - there is no need for someone to have a GRC to be treated in accordance with their gender identity in everyday life or to amend their gender on their passport.
  • A person is under no obligation to disclose that they have a GRC, and it is inappropriate to ask whether someone has one or to ask to see it.
  • This law provides increased privacy to those with a GRC; it is nearly always unlawful to disclose someone’s trans history without their consent if you have come by that information in a professional capacity (for example as manager/employee, client/supplier, co-colleagues).
  • There is no essential requirement for any medical intervention.
  • There are some barriers to accessing a GRC, including that contact with the medical profession is required to ‘confirm’ someone is trans; a person must make a legal declaration of permanence; they must have lived in accordance with their gender identity for 2+ years; they must be 18+; there are costs involved.
  • This law was progressive when it was brought in but is now regarded as dated. Other countries enable self-declaration of gender in similar ways to self-declaring a change of name, like Ireland, Argentina, Denmark, Malta. The UK is currently reviewing this law with a view to updating it.

Other laws

Criminal law

Transphobic abuse and violence are considered hate crimes or hate incidents and as with other crimes, should be reported to the police.

Common law

Cases can be brought under common law for misuse of private information, or breach of confidence.

This guidance does not give full detail of the law; if you need to know more you can find some helpful contacts below.

What else you should know

Code of conduct and policy

We have a volunteer code of conduct  in place as well as our policies which we expect all volunteers to adhere to. And there are procedures in place for addressing concerns about volunteers who may not be upholding those policies. These are updated from time to time and you should revisit them on a regular basis. See our policies pages for more information.

Media attention

We occasionally get enquiries from the media. If this happens, it’s important that you forward any queries from the external press to the PR team at HQ via your country or region communications staff member (if you have one). If you receive a press enquiry out of hours, please contact the on-call national press office on 07990 553940.

Support organisations

Contact these organisations for the most up-to-date information about supporting LGBTQ+ people.

Gendered Intelligence -  a not-for-profit organisation working to increase understandings of gender diversity and improve the lives of trans people, especially young trans people.

They work throughout the UK, offering a broad spectrum of non-judgmental, practical services for young trans and gender questioning people and those who support them, such as mentoring, youth groups, parent support and downloadable resources.

Stonewall - Stonewall work with individuals, communities and institutions to let all lesbian, gay, bi and trans people, here and abroad, know they're not alone. Amongst a wide selection of resources and reports for further reading, they also provide an information service for LGBTQ+ people, a ‘What’s in my area?’ database, and coming out guides for young people.

Gender Identity Research and Education Society (Gires) -  information for trans people, their families and the professionals who care for them.

It’s Pronounced Metrosexual - a comedy show and online resource with articles, graphics and other resources which explain gender in a clear and easy-to-access way.

The Gender Trust - helping trans people and those affected by gender identity issues. - a non-binary gender visibility advocacy network. The website contains information and resources around non-binary gender.

Trans Media Watch - a charity that aims to improve media coverage around trans issues. The website contains a useful style guide of terms used in the discussions around trans people and gender identity.

Press for Change - the UK’s leading authority on trans law.