A little boy who loves ballet and tap dancing has been left heartbroken after being told he can’t join the girl guides.
Mum Sarah Baker, 35, says her son Seán, 7, asked to join Rainbows – the youngest section of Girlguiding in the UK – because all his friends go there and he feels ‘accepted and happy’ in that environment.
But when Sarah tried to sign him up to some of his local groups in Darwen, Lancashire, she claims they refused to let him join ‘unless he identifies as a girl’.
Sarah said Seán ‘identifies as himself’ and she would not put a ‘label’ on him at such a young age.
She told Metro.co.uk: ‘Young children don’t care whether they’re boys, girls or anything.
‘I have two sons. One who is very much a Beaver type of boy and I have Seán, who doesn’t like “boy” things.
‘There’s going to be lots of boys like Seán out there and to turn him away simply because he is a boy in this day and age is just disgraceful.’
Sarah said Seán has never been a ‘boyish boy’ like his big brother Callum, 10, and loves tap dancing, ballet, drama, and singing.
She said: ‘He does activities you would normally associate with girls.
‘He is very much accepted and happy in that environment. He asked to join Rainbows because pretty much all of his friends are girls and they go there.
‘But because he’s a boy, he can’t go. He’s a very a gentle soul so Beavers and Cub Scouts are just not for him at all.
‘I just thought it was the local branch being awkward but when I contacted the national organisation I was shocked it’s still allowed to happen.
‘The response I got back was that if my son identified as a girl, then it would be different.
‘But he identifies as himself at seven years of age. He’s a boy who prefers to do girly things. I’m not labelling him at this age, absolutely not.’
Girls aged five to seven in England can join Rainbows. They do sports, cookery, arts and crafts and regularly go on trips and outings.
Sarah said: ‘They go to the theatre to see shows like Sleeping Beauty on ice. Seán would just absolutely adore that, it’s right up his street.
‘And I’ve had to sit him down at seven and explain how he can’t go because he’s a boy. He was really upset about it.’
A Girlguiding spokesperson said its ‘girl-only space’ is protected by the Equality Act 2010, legally giving it an exemption to restrict membership to those ‘who share certain protected characteristics’.
In a statement, the spokesperson said: ‘Girl-only space is one of the things that our members value most about Girlguiding.
‘This space is vital to girls and young women in today’s world, where they face a unique set of issues and pressures.’
Sarah said the statement is ‘just ludicrous’, adding: ‘When girls get older that may be relevant but at seven years of age children in general need a safe space.
‘Children are going to be friends regardless and I wholeheartedly disagree that allowing boys to go to Rainbows is going to make any child feel unsafe.
‘There are certain types of boys who will want to go to Rainbows and certain types of girls who will want to go to Beavers or Scouts.
‘It’s about having a place where everybody is welcome.’
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