The organisation, which runs activity groups for girls aged five to 18 such as Brownies and Rangers, shared a tweet on Thursday 28 October to mark Ace Week, an international campaign dedicated to raising awareness and expanding education of asexuality.
“This week is #AceWeek - a time to raise awareness and understanding of the asexual community,” the tweet began.
“So here’s a shout-out to all of our asexual volunteers and members – thank you for everything you do in Girlguiding.”
The tweet prompted more than 100 replies, many of which took issue with the organisation’s stance.
One person labelled it “beyond inappropriate” while another described it as “unnecessary”.
Another person asked why children need to be taught about “adult sexuality” and one said: “This is why I withdrew my daughter from Guides”.
The organisation added a follow-up tweet in response to the criticisms explaining the importance of inclusivity, referencing a diversity consultation it carried out last year.
“Earlier this year we launched our new diversity and inclusion strategic plan so Girlguiding can be a place where everyone feels welcome, free to be themselves and has an equal sense of belonging,” they wrote.
“Please be respectful whilst communicating on our social media pages.”
Angela Salt, chief executive of Girlguiding, told The Times: “A year ago we did a consultation with members asking how inclusive we were as an organisation. Our membership — made up of girls, parents, carers, volunteers and staff — told us that we haven’t got it right, and we needed to do more to become truly inclusive.
“In response, we launched our new diversity and inclusion strategic plan to make Girlguiding a place where everyone feels welcomed, like they belong and free to be themselves, whoever they are and wherever they are from.”
Salt continued: “We represent nearly 400,000 people across the UK and it’s important that we reflect the diverse range of voices within society.
“We welcome constructive criticism to help shape our organisation and ensure that we can support and welcome all girls and young women as we continue our journey.”
The LGBT+ charity Stonewall defines asexuality as “a person who does not experience sexual attraction”.
“Some asexual people experience romantic attraction, while others do not,” it adds.
“Asexual people who experience romantic attraction might also use terms such as gay, bi, lesbian, straight and queer in conjunction with asexual to describe the direction of their romantic attraction.”
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