Inclusive Unit Award
Learn how to earn the Inclusive Unit Award!
Scouts for Equality (SFE) is compiling a national database of inclusive BSA units and making this data freely available to the public. We want to let others know that you’re a safe space in Scouting. In recognition of your status as an inclusive unit, SFE will mail you a ribbon for display on your unit flag*. Every year around May, we’ll verify you’re still active as an inclusive unit. If you are, we’ll send you a new ribbon for that year!
*Ribbon design is TBD. Ribbons will be sent quarterly, so it might take up to 3 months to receive yours.
As of April 2017, we have transitioned to a new set of requirements for the Inclusive Unit Award. We are no longer offering “levels” – rather, there is a single simplified form for all units. This new form automatically updates our map with your unit within 48 hours of you submitting the form. We hope you’ll find this new process simpler and easier, which we hope will motivate more units to sign up! If you had already been planning on going for “Silver” or “Gold” this year – don’t fret! You can find the old program requirements here, and if you email us at firstname.lastname@example.org we’d be happy to mail you a certificate.
- Your unit does not discriminate against youth or adults on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Your unit strives to be a diverse and welcoming environment for all.
- Your unit committee has to authorize you to share this information.
- Your unit has adopted — or intends to adopt — a non-discrimination statement.
- Your chartering organization has been informed of and supports our membership policies.
- You’ll provide two points of contact in your unit for us to keep on file, privately (to reach out to you with questions). You’ll also have an opportunity to enter any contact info you’d like to share publicly on the map.
We want our map to be as up-to-date as possible, so each year we’re going to contact you asking if you’re still an inclusive unit. If you’re still an active inclusive unit, and none of your information has changed, you’ll be able to recertify by simply replying “yes” to the email! If you have any information to update, we’ll just ask that you fill out a brief form. Upon re-certifying, you’ll get another Inclusive Unit Award ribbon for that year to hang on your unit flag.
Go Above and Beyond!
You’ve signed up as an inclusive unit. Now what else can you do to help create a welcoming and inclusive Scouting movement? A lot! Here are just a few ways ways your Unit can help achieve equality for all:
Write and distribute a Non-discrimination Policy for your Unit.
- Click here to download SFE’s draft non-discrimination policy to get started!
- Make your non-discrimination policy publicly available in some way (e.g. post on your website or social media), and spread the word that you are officially an Inclusive Unit.
- You may be asking: “Why is it important to have a non-discrimination policy?” Great question! It is important because this policy helps set the tone for the kind of affirming and inclusive culture you want to create in your Unit. In fact, research has shown that non-discrimination policies may help improve the health, wellbeing, and safety of LGBTQ people in your community. For more information, see research done by Mark Hatzenbuehler at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.
- If you need help writing a policy that works for your Unit, please email us at email@example.com.
Talk to active adult leaders and parents in your troop about the Inclusive Scouting Award (ISA). This can be done via email (click here for a sample letter) or at an adult meeting. Along with this, you might also tell adults how to join SFE!
Make the Inclusive Scouting Award available to everyone in your Unit. Remember, nobody is required to wear it, but it is a great idea to have the patch readily available and accessible for anyone who wants one.
- This is a great way to start conversations and show your commitments to equality and solidarity with the LGBTQ community.
- To order ISA’s in bulk, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Establish and affirm LGBTQ inclusive policies regarding sleeping arrangements for your troop. Here are a few pointers:
- LGBTQ youth should be treated exactly the same as any other youth for all Scouting matters, particularly regarding sleeping accommodations. Please remember that some Scouts, including LGBTQ Scouts, may be uncomfortable tenting with others for various reasons and should be allowed to tent alone if they desire to do so.
- Inclusive considerations for trans youth would mean simply speaking with trans Scouts individually, and asking what sleeping arrangement they think would work best for them. If they identify as male, they may likely want to tent with other males. Likewise, if they identify as female, they may likely want to tent with other females. Some youth may appreciate the privacy afforded by a their own tent. Regardless, each youth is an expert on what will be best for them!
- For further guidance and education on inclusive accommodations (especially for transgender youth), we encourage you to click here!
- Contact at least one community organization or religious community in your area, letting them know your Unit is inclusive and supportive of all youth and adults.
- Contact at least one other BSA Unit in your council, encouraging them to take part in this program.
- The more people who know you are an Inclusive Unit, the better! Your outreach efforts help ensure that parents and youth will know exactly where to look if they are searching for a welcoming and affirming Scouting community. Do what you can to make it easy for these families to know you are there for them!
- As a Unit, you should dedicate significant time to understanding bullying behavior and bullying prevention. If possible, use the Scouts for Equality YP+ Anti-Bullying Training (email us for details – email@example.com). You might also use the BSA’s materials. SFE encourages all Inclusive Units to place a special emphasis on anti-bullying knowledge and skills (at least) once a year!
- There are many excellent resources for helping your Unit understand and address bullying behaviors (see additional links below). It is extremely important to make sure your Inclusive Unit takes bullying seriously in order to make sure your Unit is a safe and affirming environment for LGBTQ youth and adults. By doing so, you will also be leaders in ensuring that anti-bullying becomes an integral part of the Scouting culture; so that the Scout Oath and Law become synonymous with anti-bullying.
Hold an annual meeting (or send an annual email) with adult leaders and parents regarding the Inclusive Scouting Award, its meaning, and the commitment it represents.
- It’s important to periodically touch base and remind each other why you chose to become an Inclusive Unit!
Discuss your Unit’s policy on religious belief.
- Is your Unit inclusive and affirming of diverse religious or spiritual points of view? This is an important conversation to have, and also an essential facet of ensuring equality for all. Please see our “A Scout is Reverent” and “Religion FAQ” pages for more information.
March in a Pride Parade near you!
- For helpful tips about how to show your support for the LGBTQ community as an Inclusive Unit by marching in a Pride Parade, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to share some of our lessons learned.
The commitment of being an Inclusive Unit means working to ensure that your Unit is a safe and affirming place for all to learn and grow. This cannot be achieved without continuing education regarding LGBTQ experience and issues important to the LGBTQ community.
- Please be intentional about exploring additional resources to help increase your knowledge of issues regarding diversity and inclusion. There is always more to learn! This effort will help ensure that that your Unit can help lead the way in creating a Scouting movement that is equal, open, and affirming for all. Your Unit might start by familiarizing yourselves with the following resources, but don’t stop there!
- Anti-bullying resources:
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services & Human Services: Stop Bullying
- PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center
- Making Caring Common
- LGBTQ advocacy and support resources:
- Human Rights Campaign
- The Trevor Project
- Lambda Legal
- Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)
- Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)
- National LGBTQ Task Force
- Transgender specific resources:
- LGBTQ affirming religious and spiritual resources (know another open and affirming spiritual or religious organization you would like to see listed? Contact eric.busse@scoutsforequality and let them know!):
- LGBTQ Humanist Alliance
- Unitarian Universalist Association
- Reconciling Ministries Network (United Methodist Church)
- United Church of Christ
- Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity
- Affirmation: LGBT Mormons, Families and Friends
- Galva- 108, Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association
- Queer Sangha NYC (Buddhist)
- New Ways Ministry (Catholic)
- Metropolitan Community Church
- Keep in touch with SFE and let us know what your Unit is doing to help create welcoming, inclusive, equal, and affirming Scouting in your community. We would love to share your work with the world and inspire other Units across the United States to follow your lead!