5 Jan 2011

Boy Scouts strip leadership role from gay father of 9 year-old cub scout, no gay or atheist leaders or members allowed

CNN - October 20, 2010

Boy Scouts tell gay leader to take a hike

By Tom Watkins, CNN

The father of a 9-year-old Cub Scout said Tuesday he has been forced out of a leadership role with the organization and ordered not to wear its uniform because of his sexual orientation.

Jon Langbert of Dallas, Texas, who is openly gay, told HLN's "Prime News" that he had been wearing the shirt the Scouts gave him last year with pride. The shirt identified him as a member of the leadership team that was selling popcorn for a Scout fundraiser.

But that all changed last week. "Everything was running along smoothly until some of the dads complained," he said. When the complaints rose to a higher level of the Scout leadership, he was asked to stop wearing the shirt and give up his leadership role, he said.

"It made me feel terrible to think about the devastating effect it would have on my son, to see his father stripped of his leadership role," Langbert told CNN affiliate WFAA-TV in Dallas-Fort Worth. "It brought tears to my eyes."

A Scout Circle Ten Council official said Langbert was never registered as a leader in the first place.

"We do have a policy that avowed gays and atheists are not allowed to be a registered leader or member of Boy Scouts of America," said Pat Currie, Scout executive with the Circle Ten Council. "It's a longstanding policy."

In a telephone interview, Boy Scouts of America director of public relations Deron Smith told CNN that the discussion has no place in Scouting.

"We focus on our mission, and our mission is to take young people and prepare them for an exceptional adulthood," he said. "That's it. That's why our policy is the way it is. Our volunteer leadership has elected to keep that policy in place."

Smith said Langbert is welcome to continue volunteering his time, though not as a leader. "The policy, as it is written, is that the Boy Scouts does not accept for membership avowed homosexuals," he said, adding that the issue would not have arisen had Langbert kept his sexual orientation private, since prospective leaders are not asked whether they are gay.

"This is not meant as a social commentary," Smith said. "We do not have an agenda that we're pushing. We don't discuss this with our kids. We're simply an organization that feels like this is the right thing for our membership and we move it forward and we simply focus on our mission. It's really that simple."

But Langbert said continuing in a nonleadership role is not acceptable to him. "It's separate but equal -- I can be a second-class citizen."

The legality of the issue was decided in 2000 in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision by then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, which said that private organizations like the Boy Scouts can set their own membership standards.

Smith described the scouts as a nonpolitical group, noting that the president of the United States serves as the organization's honorary president. "That's regardless of what party he stands for," Smith said, adding, "He or she, I should say."

But the policy shows that the Boy Scouts need to update their rules, Langbert told WFAA. "We have a black president, an Indian-American governor in Louisiana, and a lesbian mayor in Houston," he said. "This policy is out of touch, and it's time for a change."

The father of triplets said he supports other rules in place to protect the Scouts -- such as mandatory safety training and a rule that requires at least two adults be present any time a boy is involved in a Scouting activity. "That's great," he said.

But "blatantly discriminating against a group that happens to be gay is crazy," he added.

Langbert told HLN that his son was planning to leave the Scouts. "He's saying he's not interested in continuing while his dad's being singled out like this."

This article was found at:




  1. Boy Scouts Of America Reaffirm Gay Ban

    by David Crary, AP July 17, 2012

    NEW YORK — After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, angering critics who hoped that relentless protest campaigns might lead to change.

    The Scouts cited support from parents as a key reason for keeping the policy and expressed hope that the prolonged debate over it might now subside. Bitter reactions from gay-rights activists suggested that result was unlikely.

    The Scouts' national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press that an 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, came to the conclusion that the exclusion policy "is absolutely the best policy" for the 102-year-old organization.

    Smith said the committee, comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers, was unanimous in its conclusion – preserving a long-standing policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and has remained controversial ever since.

    As a result of the committee's decision, the Scouts' national executive board will take no further action on a resolution submitted at its recent national conference asking for reconsideration of the membership policy.

    The Scouts' chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, contended that most Scout families support the policy, which applies to both adult leaders and Scouts.

    "The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Mazzuca said. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."

    The president of the largest U.S. gay-rights group, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, depicted the Scouts' decision as "a missed opportunity of colossal proportions."

    "With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued," he said. "They've chosen to teach division and intolerance."

    Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the Scouts "have turned their backs on a chance to demonstrate fairness, exercise sound judgment, and serve as a role model for valuing others."

    The Scouts did not identify the members of the special committee that studied the issue, but said in a statement that they represented "a diversity of perspectives and opinions."

    "The review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations – both from within Scouting and from outside of the organization," the statement said.

    The announcement suggests that hurdles may be high for a couple of members of the national executive board – Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson – who have recently indicated they would try to work from within to change the membership policy. Both of their companies have been commended by gay-rights groups for gay-friendly employment policies.

    Stephenson is on track to become president of the Scouts' national board in 2014, and will likely face continued pressure from gay-rights groups to try to end the exclusion policy. Asked for comment on Tuesday about the Scouts' decision to keep the policy, AT&T did not refer to Stephenson's situation specifically.

    "We don't agree with every policy of every organization we support, nor would we expect them to agree with us on everything," the company said. "Our belief is that change at any organization must come from within to be successful and sustainable."

    continued in next comment...

  2. continued from previous comment:

    A statement from the executive committee of the Scouts' national executive board alluded to the Turley-Stephenson developments.

    "Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting," the statement said. "While not all board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization."

    Since 2000, the Boy Scouts have been targeted with numerous protest campaigns and run afoul of some local nondiscrimination laws because of the membership policy.

    One ongoing protest campaign involves Jennifer Tyrrell, the Ohio mother of a 7-year-old Cub Scout who was ousted as a den mother because she is lesbian.

    Change.org, an online forum supporting activist causes, says more than 300,000 people have signed its petition urging the Scouts to reinstate Tyrrell and abandon the exclusion policy. The petition is to be delivered to the Scouts' national headquarters in Irving, Texas, on Wednesday.

    Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, an Iowa college student who was raised by lesbian mothers, said Tuesday's announcement didn't change his view that eventually the Scouts would relent under pressure from campaigns such as those that he and his allies have mounted.

    "I'm sure they'll keep saying this until the day they decide to change the policy," said Wahls.

    He contended that the committee review process should not have been kept secret. "The very first value of the Scout Law is that a Scout is trustworthy," Wahls said. "There is absolutely nothing trustworthy about unelected and unnamed committee members who are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions."

    The Boy Scouts' policy stands in contrast to inclusive membership policies adopted by several other major youth organizations, including the Girl Scouts of the USA and Camp Fire.

    Boy Scouts statement: http://www.scouting.org/Media/PressReleases/2012/20120717.aspx


  3. Boy Scouts Dangerous Message to Young Americans: Gay Kids Don't Measure Up

    by Michelangelo Signorile, Editor-at-large, HuffPost Gay Voices; SiriusXM radio host

    With the announcement after a two-year review that it would continue to exclude gay scouts and gay and lesbian scout leaders, the Boy Scouts of America has decided to continue sending a devastating and dangerous message to young people across America: keep gays away because they are not like to the rest of us.

    It's devastating and dangerous because it comes at a time when we've seen escalating reports of young people, some as young as 7, taking their own lives, suicides by gay kids often victimized and brutalized by bullies. The bullies do it because they've been told that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are worthless and should be shunned.

    And who is telling the bullies to shun "avowed homosexuals" or those they perceive to be? Well as of yesterday, once again, none other than the Boy Scouts of America, which said it would continue to ban "open or avowed" gays. By deciding after a two-year secretive review of an 11-member committee -- a committee so cowardly that the names of those on it have been kept confidential -- that it would continue to discriminate, the Boy Scouts tells young Americans that no one should accept gay people. If gays shouldn't be allowed in the Boy Scouts, after all, why should they be allowed in your school or in your neighborhood?

    Activist Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout whose two moms are lesbians, and Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mother from Ohio who was forced out as a den leader, had brought renewed attention to the injustice of the policy in recent months. "We've heard this line before, and I'm sure they'll keep saying this until the day they decide to change the policy," Wahls said in a statement. "We know where this is headed."

    But until that time, how many more kids will feel the stigma the Boy Scouts helps perpetuate? The statement from the BSA is breathtaking in its callousness, and by claiming that it allowed for diverse viewpoints but that continuing the ban was ultimately decided upon by "unanimous consent," the BSA did further damage by insinuating that even those who support gays think it's best to keep them out:

    The committee included a diversity of perspectives and opinions.The review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations -- both from within Scouting and from outside the organization. The committee's work and conclusion is that this policy reflects the beliefs and perspectives of the BSA's members, thereby allowing Scouting to remain focused on its mission and the work it is doing to serve more youth.

    The BSA's argument is that the majority of its members believe in such discrimination, therefore it must continue to discriminate. What does that tell young people all across America? That bullying is fine -- and yes, what the Boy Scouts is engaging in is institutionalized bullying -- as long as the majority is down with it.

    The Boy Scouts had a chance to redeem itself, but it should now be considered an enemy of civil rights and a reckless organization whose actions are furthering bullying and discrimination in America. Any parents in good conscious must realize what they are a party to by enrolling their kids in an organization whose policies would help drive the hostility and violence that gay kids experience every day in this country. And any corporation or organization that associates with the Boy Scouts must be made to realize the ugliness it is party to as well.


  4. 11 year-old banned from joining the Scouts for refusing to pledge allegiance to God

    by British Humanist Association October 22, 2012

    An 11 year-old boy has been banned from joining his local Scout group because he does not believe in God. George Pratt, from Midsomer Norton in Somerset, refuses to make the Scout Promise, in which new members are required to swear allegiance to God and the Queen, because of his atheist beliefs. As a result, he cannot be invested as a full member of the Scout group which meets opposite his home. The British Humanist Association (BHA) supports George’s decision, and would like both the Scouts and the Girl Guides to omit this prohibitive portion of the membership oath.

    George had been attending meetings at his local Scout group for ten months before being asked if he wanted to be invested in the group. However, after discussing the Scout Law and Promise, he realised that to become full members of the organisation, Scouts must take the following oath: ‘On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people, and to keep the Scout Law.’ George decided he could not do this, and is disappointed that his atheist beliefs prevent him from becoming a full member.

    The religious part of the Scout Promise is inappropriate given the beliefs of modern-day teenagers – according to research carried out by the Department for Education in 2004, two thirds of 12-19 year olds in Britain are non-religious. This discrimination by the Scouts and Guides is one of the most common reasons why people contact the BHA for advice. In 2006, the BHA worked with its supporters in Parliament to try to amend the Equality Bill so that secular charities are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion or belief. However, this amendment was not passed.

    Several branches of the Scout and Guide movements in other parts of the world have already dropped the religious part of their membership oaths. In July, Australia’s Girl Guides decided to replace the part of the oath in which Guides promised to ‘do my duty to God, to serve the Queen and my country’, with a promise to ‘to be true to myself and develop my beliefs’. In France, the Netherlands, Canada, and the Czech Republic, the Scouts also have alternative pledges that are acceptable to the non-religious. Since 1993, the Girl Scouts of the USA (but not the Boy Scouts of America) have been allowed to substitute another word or phrase for ‘God’ in their membership oath.

    Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA Head of Public Affairs, commented, ‘We support George in his decision to stand up for his beliefs. The Scout and Girl Guide movements claim to be inclusive and open to all, but requiring members to swear allegiance to God either excludes the non-religious, or forces them to make a dishonest statement. It is unacceptable that organisations which receive large amounts of public funding should be allowed to discriminate in this way. The non-religious are the only group in society who are excluded from Scout and Girl Guide membership on the grounds of belief. To be truly inclusive, the Scouts and Girl Guides should drop the religious part of their membership oaths.’


  5. UPS Halts Boy Scouts Donations Over Anti-Gay Policy

    Huffington Post November 12, 2012

    More bad news for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), as a major donor has announced plans to sever funding to the organization on account of a controversial anti-gay policy.

    The United Parcel Service (UPS), Inc. will soon adopt a non-discrimination policy that disqualifies the BSA from future funding, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) reports. UPS follows the Intel Foundation in withdrawing corporate sponsorship from the BSA, GLAAD officials note in an email statement.

    "UPS and The UPS Foundation do not discriminate against any person or organization with regard to categories protected by applicable law, as well as other categories protected by UPS and The UPS Foundation in our own policies," UPS officials note on the company's website. "These include, but are not limited to race, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or military status, pregnancy, age and religion."

    Among those to applaud the UPS move was Zach Wahls, the Iowa student whose impassioned pro-gay marriage speech to his state's legislators became the most-watched political clip of 2011 on YouTube after going viral twice last year.

    "UPS showed true bravery today in standing with the 80,000 Americans, including thousands of Scouts and Scout leaders, who oppose the Boy Scouts’ hurtful anti-gay policy. That bravery is what Scouting is all about,” Wahls, who is also a regular HuffPost Gay Voices blogger, said in a Change.org petition. “Corporate America gets it better than most: policies that discriminate aren’t simply wrong, they're bad for business and they're hurting the Scouting community. You would think that after all the Boy Scouts have lost as a result of this policy, they would understand that.”

    Added GLAAD President Herdon Graddick: "Equality is not only good for business, but supported by a vast majority of Americans. The time is now for the BSA to end this outdated and unpopular ban before other corporate funders pull dollars and scouting families drop their support."

    The petition also noted that UPS gave more than $150,000 to the Boy Scouts of America, despite the organization's policy banning gay Scouts and leaders from participating, just two years ago.

    In July, BSA reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays from participating as scouts or troop leaders, citing support from parents as a key incentive. "The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," the Scouts' chief executive Bob Mazzuca told the Associated Press. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."

    The issue had been brought the forefront again after the case of Jennifer Tyrrell, the Ohio-based mother who was forced to resign as den leader of her son's Tiger Scout group because she is a lesbian.


  6. NSS welcomes consultation on Scouts Promise

    National Secular Society UK December 5, 2012

    News that the Scout Association has decided to review its policy of excluding people without a religious belief has been welcomed by the National Secular Society.

    The NSS has been campaigning for the Scouts to introduce a secular oath to enable young people who can’t, in good conscience, swear a religious oath, to still participate. Keith Porteous Wood, NSS Executive Director, met the Scout’s Chief Executive five years ago to ask for this change.

    Leaders insist the existing Scout Promise — which also contains a vow of allegiance to the Queen — will continue to be used alongside any alternative versions.

    Wayne Bulpitt, the association’s chief commissioner in the UK, said: “We are a values-based movement and exploring faith and religion will remain a key element of the Scouting programme. That will not change. However, throughout our 105-year history, we have continued to evolve so that we remain relevant to communities across the UK. We do that by regularly seeking the views of our members and we will use the information gathered by the consultation to help shape the future of scouting for the coming years.”

    The Scout Promise reads: “On my honour, I promise that I will do my best to do my duty to God and to the Queen, to help other people and to keep the Scout Law.” Alternative versions allow Hindus and Buddhists to use the word “my Dharma” while Muslims can use the word “Allah”.

    Non UK citizens are permitted to replace the phrase “duty to the Queen” with “duty to the country in which I am now living”.

    Reacting to the development, Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said: “This is a positive step in the right direction. By changing their policies to be inclusive of people without a religious belief, the Scouts could bring themselves in line with the reality of 21st century Britain, where more than two thirds of young people say they have no religious belief.

    “It will also prevent unnecessary confrontations such as that of 11-year-old George Pratt, who made national headlines in October when his local Scout troop refused to let him join because he was an atheist.

    “If the Scouts do decide to change the promise, it will relieve many young people of having to lie about what they believe in order to be part of this much admired organisation.”

    An alternative promise, known as the “Outlander Oath“, believed to have been written by Scouts founder Baden-Powell, was intended for those who, for reasons of conscience, could not recognize a “duty to God” and did not worship a deity. It omitted any reference to God or a monarch and, according to scout leaders, was in use as late as the 1990s.

    A petition calling on the scouts to open up scouting to non-believers was recently launched by the National Secular Society. You can sign the petition here.

    The NSS also recently wrote to Gill Slocombe, Chief Guide of Girlguiding UK, on the issue of their religious Promise. The current wording states: “I promise that I will do my best, to love my God, to serve the Queen and my country, to help other people and to keep the Guide Law.” Whilst the Promise is optional, only girls who have taken it can be awarded the movement’s highest badges.

    In a progressive move similar to the Scouting Association, Girlguiding UK have also announced the launch, in January 2013, of an online consultation “on how we express the values embodied by the Promise”.


  7. Boy Scouts shift on gays wouldn’t change rules on atheists

    By Brian Shane And Mike Chalmers The Washington Post - On Faith January 29, 2012

    For former scoutmaster Richard Guglielmetti, the Boy Scouts of America’s reconsideration of its ban on gay scouts and leaders is long overdue.

    Guglielmetti, 66, who led Troop 76 in Simsbury, Conn., for a dozen years until 2005, said leaders and members of his troop ignored the national organization’s prohibition on gays because they felt it was wrong.

    “It’s about time,” he said Monday (Jan. 28).

    Despite the national policies set forth by BSA, his troop always rejected the policy, Guglielmetti said.

    “We had a bunch of boys in our troop who were gay, and they all felt the policy was wrong,” he said. “Gay Scouts and everybody was always welcome in our troop.”

    One of those Scouts was Guglielmetti’s own son, Matthew, now 34. Last year, Matthew turned in the Eagle Scout award he earned in 1993 because of Scouting’s anti-gay policies, his father said.

    In September, the elder Guglielmetti resigned from Scouting. He had been serving the Matianuck District in north central Connecticut as the chairman responsible for giving Eagle Scout candidates their review boards.

    Guglielmetti said that for him the final straw was hearing of Ryan Andresen, a gay teen in California who was not allowed to earn his Eagle Scout ranking even after completing the required service project.

    “The boy did all the work and everybody knew he was gay, and then they rejected him. That was just intolerable. When that came up, I said, I can’t take it, I can’t put up with this anymore,” he said.

    “Just because a person is gay doesn’t mean he’s a pedophile,” Guglielmetti added. “Barring gay leaders kind of accuses them of being pedophiles. Which they’re not — there’s plenty of good gay men that would be good leaders. As far as their policy against gay Scouts, I don’t think they should discriminate against anybody — black, white, rich, poor, gay, straight. I mean, it’s Boy Scouts, and they’re boys. That was my problem with it.”

    The potential policy shift raises a question about another group shut out of Scouting: atheists, who decline to say the Boy Scout Oath because it begins: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law.”

    David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said Monday, “If they are considering lifting the ban on gays, that’s a good thing, that’s progress. If they lift that bigotry from their requirements, I would hope they remove the rest of the bigotry and admit atheists as well.”

    Refusing to admit atheists who decline the oath, Silverman said, “tells boys that atheists are immoral. If local groups want to behave in an ethical way, I’m confident they will make Boy Scouts about Scouting, not about bigotry.”

    The Girl Scout Promise is similar in committing the girl to “serve God and my country.”

    But the official site also stipulates: “According to the Girl Scout Constitution, the motivating force in Girl Scouting is spiritual. The ways in which members identify and fulfill their spiritual beliefs are personal and private.”

    The Girl Scouts of the USA policy is that religious expression is diverse and “the decision to say grace, blessing or invocation is made locally at the troop or group level and should be sensitive to the spiritual beliefs of the participants.”


  8. I Was an Atheist Child, and the Girl Scouts Didn’t Want Me

    by Lynn Stuart Parramore AlterNet February 7, 2013

    The news this week from Scoutland brings controversy over a proposed end to the ban on gay Americans. But here’s another dirty little secret. The Boy Scouts also officially discriminate against atheists and agnostics. For much of their history, the Girl Scouts did, too, but in 1993, the national organization had the sense to stop this unfair and distinctly un-American practice.

    That was too late for me. I was a Brownie in 1978, and wanted to become a Girl Scout. It was not to be.

    I had a hard time fitting in as a kid. My Sunday school teacher’s eyes shot daggers at me when, after a lesson on the Virgin Mary, I asked, “Was Joseph a virgin, too?” I just didn’t take to the religion thing. Alongside my Bible, I readBullfinch’s Mythology, and I much preferred the Greek gods. They fell in love and had adventures and didn’t seem to take themselves so seriously. There was laughter in heaven. Jesus was sort of okay – I liked some of his sermons. But the Bible seemed filled with harsh desert people (mostly men) morbidly obsessed with death and suffering. What had they to do with me?

    When I was eight, I became a Brownie and took much pleasure in my crisp little uniform and close association with mint chocolate cookies. I vaguely recall winding yarn around popsicle sticks and doing things like that to prove my craftiness. Like most Brownies, I yearned to join the green ranks of the Girl Scouts, so I dutifully earned Brownie points in preparation for the big event when I would be pinned by a troop leader and accepted into the upper echelon of girldom.

    But something unexpected happened during the Induction Ceremony. The ritual of transition from Brownie to Girl Scout was very sacred and solemn and involved, among other things, staring into a pool of water. It also required me to pledge an oath to God. (You can check out a video of some little tykes saying ithere).

    On my honor, I will try:
    To serve God and my country,
    To help people at all times,
    And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

    This pledge didn't sit right with me, for the simple reason that as far as I could tell, God didn’t exist. To pledge an oath to him would be lying. I stood frozen when it was time to swear fealty to a non-existent being. Probably I could have gotten away with just mouthing the words, but a feeling in the pit of my stomach told me that was wrong. I sheepishly mumbled my dilemma to the troop leader and she looked at me with the exasperation adults get when confronting a pint-sized pain in the ass. “Well, that’s what it takes to be a Girl Scout.” Confused, ashamed, and a little defiant, I took off my sash and handed it to her.

    That was that. I would never have those illustrious Girl Scout badges for basket weaving and what not proudly streaming across my chest. The green uniform would not be mine. Part of me was a little relieved, because I wasn’t the sportiest of children and joining the Scouts meant proving my fitness for things like orienteering and riflery. I still like the cookies, though.

    Compared to the Boy Scouts, today’s Girl Scouts are known as the more progressive example of youth programming. According to The Atlantic, the Boy Scouts of America still “expressly prohibits membership (even as Cub Scouts) of atheists and agnostics.” The Girl Scouts, on the other hand, are now cool with atheism and have shown a fondness for New Agey tenets. They've even drawn the ire of Catholic bishops. I’ll give them points for that.


  9. I promise... to be true to myself and develop my beliefs: Girl Guides drop religious reference but pledge to self and the Queen

    After 103 years, organisation changes oath to welcome 'all girls, of all faiths, and none'

    by Sarah Morrison, The Independent UK June 19, 2013

    For decades, Brownies and Girl Guides have promised to “love my God,” and “serve the Queen and my country”. But now, in a triumph for secularists, the organisation has decided to drop references to the deity – and the nation – from the oath taken by members.

    The controversial change, one of the biggest in the organisation’s 103-year-history, was taken in an attempt to show the movement welcomed “all girls, of all faiths and none”.

    However, the Guides decided to retain the pledge to serve their patron Queen Elizabeth II in the Promise. Anti-monarchy campaigners told The Independent that the organisation had “missed” an “opportunity” to truly open up the organisation.

    From September, all new members over the age of seven who make the Girl Guide Promise will pledge an oath to “be true to myself and develop my beliefs” and “to serve my Queen and my community.”

    Girlguiding boasts more than half a million members, but it is the first time the promise has been changed since 1994. While the promise is optional, girls will not be able to secure the highest Guide badges without taking it.

    Graham Smith, campaign manager for anti-monarchy group Republic, said: “It’s not appropriate to ask children to pledge allegiance to a head of state. You can’t be true to yourself and your conscience and pledge allegiance to one person; it contradicts itself.”

    But Gill Slocombe, Chief Guide, said the new promise was decided after a consultation involving nearly 44,000 people. She said the religious reference sometimes “discouraged some girls and volunteers from joining” the organisation. “We hope that the new wording will help us reach out to girls and women who might not have considered guiding before – so that even more girls can benefit from everything guiding can offer.”

    On the reference to the Queen, she added: “The results showed our respondents have a very strong commitment to retaining that aspect of the promise. There was a huge amount of support for that line to be kept in. The Queen is our patron and we are very proud and honoured to have her.”

    The National Secular Society, who backed the review, said the “introduction of one secular promise for all is a hugely positive and welcome development.” But added that in their response to the consultation, they suggested that “to be fully inclusive this aspect should not contain any reference to the Monarch.”

    The Church of England accepted the changes, but a spokesman for the Christian Concern campaign group said: “Taking ‘God’ out of the promise denies the history and foundations of the movement without offering anything in its place, with the result that the organisation will lose its distinctive ethos and end up meaning nothing.”

    Guiding promise: In with the new…

    The new promise

    “I promise that I will do my best:

    To be true to myself and develop my beliefs,

    To serve the Queen and my community,

    To help other people


    To keep the (Brownie) Guide law.”

    The old promise

    “I promise that I will do my best:

    To love my God,

    To serve the Queen and my country,

    To help other people


    To keep the Guide law.”