Girlguiding leader sacked over trans policy row reaches settlement

Girlguiding leader who was sacked after objecting to policy allowing boys who identify as female to join may rejoin after reaching settlement with the organisation

  • Katie Alcock launched discrimination case against Girlguiding chiefs in 2019
  • Ms Alcock was expelled for objecting to boys who identify as female joining
  • She feared change in rules could affect child safety with shared accommodation 
  • Mother-of-two has now reached a settlement with Girlguiding over the row 

A former Girl Guides leader who claimed discrimination after she was expelled for objecting to a policy allowing boys who identify as female to join has reached a settlement with the charity.

Katie Alcock, a mother-of-two from Lancaster, launched the case against Girlguiding chiefs claiming that they discriminated against her beliefs as a feminist.

She had been a leader for ten years and she said that she feared the change in the rules would affect child safety. 

Details of Ms Alcock’s settlement with the charity have not been shared – though she is said to have been invited to apply to rejoin. 

Concern has been raised over biological males sharing accommodation, showers and toilets with girls on trips away ever since the change in policy came into force in 2017. 

Ms Alcock says that as a feminist she believes males cannot change their biological sex, so should not be admitted to a group created for females.

Girl Guides leader Katie Alcock launched the landmark case against Girlguiding chiefs claiming that they have discriminated against her beliefs as a feminist. Ms Alcock says that as a feminist she believes males cannot change their biological sex, so should not be admitted to a group created for females

Her dispute with the Guides began in June 2018 when, along with fellow leader Helen Watts, her objections to the transgender policy were secretly reported to the Girlguiding leadership.

A four-month investigation concluded she had breached the organisation’s social media rules by airing her concerns online.

It also ruled she had broken the ‘code of conduct’ by refusing to adhere to the Guides’ equality and diversity policy on transgender inclusion.

Ms Alcock was expelled when her membership of Girlguiding was withdrawn after she refused to unquestioningly agree to follow the new transgender rules.

She said at the time: ‘I wouldn’t discriminate against someone who said they wanted to change gender in the sense I wouldn’t treat them differently to any other child. But I believe gender is something created by society and it is about telling people how we think they should behave if they are a boy or a girl.

‘That is a very different thing to people’s biological sex, which I don’t believe people can change.

‘I am taking Girlguiding to court because they are discriminating against me by excluding me on grounds of these beliefs.

‘You can’t say the Guides is a single-sex movement and yet take in boys and men as members.’

She is also worried about guidance forbidding leaders telling parents or anyone else that a young person is transgender without the child’s permission.

The mother-of-two from Lancaster said: ‘A child may tell you I am trans, I’m going to meet someone that I’ve met on the internet or I’m taking these drugs that I’ve bought online. These are the kind of things a trusted leader could be told and we were informed we couldn’t disclose to any individual a child was transgender.

Brownies is aimed at girls aged seven to ten. Ms Alcock’s dispute with the Guides began in June 2018 when, along with fellow leader Helen Watts, her objections to the transgender policy were secretly reported to the Girlguiding leadership (file image) 

‘Therefore we wouldn’t be able to tell anyone about these concerns.’

Ms Alcock appealed against her expulsion, but the original decision against her was upheld.

She later lodged a civil case against Girlguiding in London County Court. Her claims included ‘discrimination’, ‘harassment’ and ‘victimisation’ on the grounds of her feminist beliefs that individuals cannot change their biological sex.

The organisation, which is trans-inclusive, has now settled out of court.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “We agree that sex and gender are different, and will reflect this in the language we use.”

The statement adds: “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.”

The statement insists that bosses are “pleased” an agreement has been reached with Katie Alcock, adding: “We always value the bravery of women speaking up.”

Dr Alcock said in a statement: “I am pleased to have found a resolution with Girlguiding, and I am grateful to them for having provided the space to do so.

“I am especially pleased that Girlguiding have recognised that parents, carers and volunteers need clarity and transparency in the understanding of all policies.

“There are differing views around gender and sex. Only through a respectful and substantive dialogue can those views be shared and considered, and resolution found.

“I am proud to have been part of a process that has enabled this to happen, and proud to have been associated for so long with an organisation which has facilitated this.”

She also added that “the past three years have been a very difficult time for me and my family” and that she was grateful to the organisation who recognised she raised her concerns out of “loyalty”.

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