This initiative from Woodcraft Folk is to be applauded and supported. The IDYW Steering Group has added its name to the Letter. Woodcraft would be pleased to receive messages of support from any other youth organisations, agencies, centres and projects wishing to be co-signatories. Contact Debs McCahon [Director of Development] at firstname.lastname@example.org
Woodcraft Folk have drafted this letter and sought the support of other youth organisations as co-signatories because we are dismayed at how national media outlets are whipping up hatred towards trans children.
All children and young people need access to spaces and activities which provide them with opportunities for personal development, to create connections with peers and to support their wellbeing. This is especially the case for trans and non-binary children and young people.
Research has found that nearly half (48 per cent) of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30 per cent said they had done so in the past year, while 59 per cent said they had considered doing so (Stonewall, 2015). 64 per cent of trans pupils are bullied for being LGBT in Britain’s schools (Stonewall, 2017). Youth organisations have a vital role to play in supporting these children and young people.
Each of our organisations takes a different approach, provides different opportunities or serves a different range of children and young people but together, as youth organisations, we all exist to support children and young people, their mental health and their overall wellbeing. As such, we cannot allow any attempts to exclude trans young people from the spaces and activities that we provide, or allow them to be discriminated against in any way.
The news that another youth organisation is facing legal action simply for standing by their commitment to be inclusive of trans young people is extremely alarming. This attack, which seeks to dismantle the legal protections and rights of vulnerable individuals, has implications for all of us.
There is no evidence that trans children, young people or volunteers present any greater safeguarding risk than their cis peers. To suggest this is the case is using unfounded prejudice to stir up hate and create a climate of fear. This must stop.
At this time, we want all children and young people to know that our organisations will support you regardless of whether you are cis or trans and whether you are certain of your gender identity or questioning it. We will provide training and guidance to ensure you are not discriminated against and that everyone involved in providing our activities and services do their best for your wellbeing.
Debs McCahon and Sarah Welsh (Joint Chief Executives), Woodcraft Folk
Pip Sayers (Chair of Trustees), Woodcraft Folk
Amanda Chetwynd-Cowieson (Chair), British Youth Council
Leigh Middleton (Chief Executive Officer), National Youth Agency
Anna Smee (Chief Executive Officer), UK Youth
A recent exchange on our Facebook page illustrated the need for a more informed and questioning engagement within youth and community work about the importance of recognising transgender identities. In this context we would encourage you to read the following article, which appeared in the Spring Issue of CONCEPT.
Paula Manners, the author, is a practitioner in the gender-based violence field, with experience of working in Women’s Aid and Rape Crisis services. She also has experience of working with LGBT young people.