Scouting Goes Fully Co-ed
Questions and Answers
by Andy McLaughlin
Scouts Canada always promotes values of fairness, tolerance and inclusion.
On November 21, 1998, our National Council passed a motion affirming Scouts Canada as a fully co-educational organization. This historic motion will have far-reaching implications for Scouting in Canada. The new policy recognizes and reflects Canadian societal changes, the co-ed position of the World Scout Movement, and the continued evolution of Canadian Scouting (See the January Leader, p. 15, for the approved motion.)
What does the new co-ed policy mean to you and your group? Here are some questions and answers to help you understand it.
Q: What does the policy mean?
A: It means that boys and girls will be treated equally when they ask to join a Scouting group. No group or individual has the power to deny a female membership in the group.
Q: When does the new policy take effect?
A: Effective immediately, groups must treat potential male and female members the same.
Q: Our group is having difficulty accepting this? What can we do?
A: Your service team and/or council office can help. They can work with your group to help deal with any issues or concerns that may arise.
Q: Our group is full, and girls want to join? What do we do?
A: Any potential members wishing to join a full group should either be put on a waiting list or referred to a nearby group. Again, boys and girls must be treated equally on any waiting list.
Q: Are there any exceptions to the co-ed policy?
A: Only groups where theological philosophies (required by the national governing body of the specific denomination or religion) insist on gender separation can remain male-only. In practice, this will probably be limited to groups sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), some Orthodox Jewish groups, and possibly orthodox Muslim groups.
Local sponsors (e.g. a particular Anglican or United Church) must not discriminate against girls wishing to join.
Q: Are there any changes to Scoutingís programs, policies and procedures because we are fully co-ed?
A: The following guidelines developed in 1992 are still in effect:
Volunteer recruitment will be in accordance with By-law, Policies and Procedures. Scouts Canada strongly encourages mixed leadership in all sections where membership is mixed, and at any camp or outing for a mixed section. Parents and group committee members, or other suitable adults, can help section Scouters meet these requirements.
Camping and Activities
Camps and activities are open to boys and girls on an equal basis. In mixed groups, leaders must make appropriate physical arrangements (e.g. for sleeping). Special sensitivity and parental reassurance is required when youth members participate in activities unaccompanied by adults (e.g. night hikes, patrol camps, patrol leader camps).
Scouts Canada does not anticipate significant changes in the formal training requirements for section leaders, service teams or commissioners. Scouts Canada encourages trainers to include gender issues in topics, such as young peopleís development, attitudes, values and relationships. Within course work, trainers should also cover practical aspects of mixed membership for program planning, camping, and games.
Leaders must have appropriate toilet and change room facilities at all group meeting places, campsites, etc.
The National Management Board has formed a task group to look at all policies, procedures and programs. Judith Evans (Vice-President, National Council), Steve Kent (former Chair, National Youth Committee) and Leo Bruseker (Alberta Provincial President) are on the committee. They will report their recommendations to the May National Council meetings.
Contact your Service Scouter or your council office if you have any other questions regarding co-ed Scouting. Letís all work together to make Scouting available to all young people wanting to participate!
Co-ed Scouting and More
National Council held its semi-annual meeting in Ottawa on November 21, 1998. The meeting brings together representatives of the provincial councils, chairs of national standing committees, and the National Management Board.
The following motions were approved:
effective September 1, 1999.
Northwest Territories and Nunavut Council, effective April 1, 1999.
Notices of Motion
The following Notices of Motion were presented. (These motions will be
discussed and voted on at the May, 1999 National Council meeting.)
2000, as outlined in the proposal presented by the National Youth Committee.
recommending changes to the structure of Scouts Canada. (See the
December Leader for details.)
The following people were elected at the National Council Annual General Meeting, held November 21, 1998: David Huestis as the new National President, David Rattray as Past-President, and Judith Evans and Jon Noble as new Vice-Presidents.
Other officers of the Council were re-elected.
The next National Council meeting will be held Saturday, May 15, 1999 at
the Holiday Inn, Pointe Claire, Quebec.
From the February 1999 issue of The Leader Magazine