Until 1971, no Scouts Canada programs were officially co-ed (though co-ed Scouting existed here and there unofficially, mostly in small towns and rural areas). In 1971, Scouts Canada officially allowed Rover Scout Crews (ages 18-26) to become co-ed, at a Crew's option. In 1984, this local option was extended to Venturer Scout Companies (ages 14-17). In 1992, local option was opened to the rest of Scouts Canada's
sections; Beavers (5-7) , Wolf Cubs (8-10), and Scouts (11-14). This change was intended to be an evolutionary step towards a fully co-ed Scouts Canada. Surveys within Scouting in the late 1980s showed strong interest in such a future.
On November 21,1998 Scouts Canada's National Council passed a resolution which removed the local option and requires all Scouts Canada sections to be
co-ed, unless they are partnered with a religious denomination which prohibits a co-ed youth program on religious grounds. Very few groups fall into this category, and these are usually 'closed units,' like those sponsored by the LDS.
Below is further information about Scouts Canada's policy on co-ed Scouting.
CO-EDUCATIONAL - SCOUTING
QUESTION AND ANSWERS
On November 21,1998 Scouts Canada's National Council passed the following motion:
"In accordance with its principles and mission, Scouts Canada, and its members reaffirm that it is a Co-ed Organization and that it shall
not discriminate on the basis of gender".
The following represents the most frequently asked questions about co-educational Scouting in Canada.
1. WHAT DOES THE MOTION MEAN?
It means that there is no longer an option to remain an all male
group. Any female requesting admission to a section should be accepted on the same basis as any male.
2. WHEN DOES THE POLICY TAKE EFFECT?
This policy became effective on November 21, 1998.
3. WHY WAS THE CHANGE MADE?
The change was made for a number of reasons. It reflects the current trend towards an inclusive society, it brings us in line with the World Organization philosophy, mission and constitution and it responds to concerns that have been voiced at what was seen as our discriminatory practices of excluding some females while allowing others to participate. In this regard we have been challenged in
Human Rights Tribunals across the country. It is worth noting that in a 1998 public poll conducted by Angus Reid 94% of youth and 74% of adults surveyed supported the concept of co-educational Scouting.
4. DO OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE CO-EDUCATIONAL SCOUTING?
Scouting in most countries, including Great Britain and Australia, is
co-educational. The constitution of the World Organization clearly states the position that Scouting welcomes both sexes.
5. THE GIRL GUIDES ARE NOT CO-ED. WHY SHOULD WE BE?
Scouts Canada and the Girl Guides are separate organizations. We cannot comment on Guiding remaining a same-sex program. However
, the majority of Scouting's partners support a co-ed program.
6. ARE WE INSURED FOR BOTH MALE AND FEMALE MEMBERS?
Scouts Canada insurance policies cover all registered male and female members.
7. DOES THE POLICY APPLY TO ALL GROUPS?
The only groups that can remain male only are those where, for theological reasons required by the National Governing Board of the denomination or religion in question, a gender separation is required. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is one example where gender separation is maintained in all their activities for youth.
8. IF THERE IS GUIDING IN THE SAME LOCATION WITH THE SAME SPONSOR CAN THE SCOUT GROUP REMAIN MALE ONLY?
No. The same policies apply as for any other group.
9. CAN THERE BE AN ALL FEMALE GROUP?
The same policies apply to this group as any other and males may not be excluded. If, by circumstances, a group or section is all female we would hope that it would work towards becoming all inclusive through the admission of males.
10. CAN WE STILL EXIST IF WE ARE AN ALL MALE GROUP AND NO FEMALES REQUEST ADMISSION?
A group or section can remain all male if no females request admission. However, it is expected that any recruitment activity will target males and females equally.
11. IS IT MANDATORY THAT A CO-ED SECTION HAS CO-ED LEADERSHIP?
The co-ed leadership issue is currently being revisited. In the
meantime it is strongly recommended but not mandatory that co-ed groups have co-ed leadership. Co-educational leadership is particularly important at camps or day outings. Parents, group committee members or other suitable adults can help Section Scouters meet these needs. When a section or event has only male leadership the leaders must ensure that the parents of females wishing to participate are aware of this.
12. IS THE PROGRAM SUITABLE FOR BOTH MALES AND FEMALES?
The Scouting program is designed to meet individual youth members' social and developmental needs. The program in all sections are appropriate for both male and female members. It is important to keep programs flexible to ensure they meet all needs. Leaders will
need to sensitively monitor some aspects of the program, such as physical contact games, to ensure that differences as well as similarities are taken into account.
13. WITHIN A CO-EDUCATIONAL GROUP WHAT OPPORTUNITIES ARE THERE FOR SINGLE GENDER ACTIVITIES?
Programs need to be flexible enough to recognize opportunities for
single gender activities. If, on occasion, youth in a section express different interests based along gender lines, these wishes should be accommodated.
14. VENTURER AND ROVER PROGRAMS ARE STRUCTURED TO ALLOW SELF DETERMINATION AROUND MEMBERSHIP. WILL THIS CHANGE?
Venturers and Rovers will continue to manage their own membership
. However, they may not discriminate on the basis of gender.
15. IS APPROPRIATE UNIFORM AVAILABLE?
Suitable uniform is available for both male and female members.
16. WILL ALTERATIONS BE NEEDED TO OUR SCOUT PROPERTIES?
Properties should be assessed to ensure they meet the appropriate local health and safety codes for male and female use. Considerations should be given to sleeping accommodation, toilets, bathing facilities etc.
17. WILL CAMPING AND OTHER ACTIVITIES NEED TO CHANGE?
Camps and activities are open to females and males on an equal basis. The Scout program or activity will not need to change. However, in mixed groups it will be important to make appropriate physical arrangements (e.g. for sleeping). When youth members participate in activities unaccompanied by adults (e.g. night hikes, patrol camps, patrol leaders camps) special sensitivity and parental assurance will be required.
18. IS THE CURRENT ADULT TRAINING MATERIAL APPROPRIATE?
Scouting has had male and female youth members in the senior sections for many years and as in all sections since 1992. The Adult Volunteer Services Committee have reviewed the training material to ensure it is gender responsive. It is recommended that trainers
include gender issues on topics such as young people's development, attitudes, values and relationships and cover the practical aspects of mixed membership within course work on camping, games etc.
19. WHO SHOULD THIS CHANGE BE FORMALLY COMMUNICATED TO?
All current youth and adult members of your group, parents and
guardians and sponsors. If your group is already coeducational a brief verbal or written communication outlining the elimination of the option is sufficient. If all or part of your group is currently male only a personal approach is the best method. There should be early opportunity for questions and discussion. This pamphlet will provide the answers to many of the questions and its wide distribution is recommended.
20. WHERE DO I GO FOR MORE INFORMATION OR ASSISTANCE?
Most regions throughout the country have one or more fully co-educational groups that have successfully operated for a number of years. Your local council will be able to put you in contact with them.
Alternatively your council will be able to assist you with both further information and support as you make the transition.