Parents fume as boys identifying as girls put into female dorms at summer camp started by David Cameron
16 and 17-year olds signing up to the activity project will be in dorms for two weeks, and parents have questioned whether those signing their children up are aware of the mixed-sex dorms
Teenage boys who self-identify as girls will be placed into female-only dorms at a summer camp set up by David Cameron.
The National Citizen Service (NCS), backed largely by the Government, has faced criticism by some who accuse the organisation of putting young people at risk by allowing them to select which dorms, toilets and showers they can use.
16 and 17-year-olds signing up to the activity project will be in dorms for two weeks, and parents have questioned whether those signing their children up are aware of the mixed-sex dorms.
A mother was allegedly told that girls who are uncomfortable with boys potentially being in their room needed “to be educated to respect the identity of the male person”.
Another says her son left the camp in 2019 as he was sharing a dorm with a trans male and a teenage boy who were in a sexual relationship.
The NCS is seen as central to David Cameron's legacy after it was launched in 2011, while he was still Prime Minister, as part of his "Big Society" plans.
Taxpayer funding has reached over £1.3billion for the project, and made up almost 90 percent of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s youth budget, until last year.
Mr Cameron is a patron of the organisation, and the Government appoints trustees.
The NCS last year received £75million in public funding.
Parents and campaign groups questioned on Monday night whether the body was properly safeguarding children.
One mother told the Telegraph that her 16-year-old son signed up to the camp this year and put down "female" as his gender, after recently starting to identify as a girl.
The local provider of the camp therefore asked which room he would prefer to sleep in.
When the mother got in touch with the camp to air her concerns, she was allegedly told: "We will allow the young people to self-ID and they will be put into whichever dorm they feel comfortable in."
She said: “I didn’t think that it was fair for him to go into the girls’ dorm. If mixed-sex dorms are allowed, then obviously there is the risk of sexual relations, but also this is a threat to the privacy of the girls.
“I don’t know any 16-year-old girl who would be confident being naked in public because it is such a difficult age. I think the girls and their parents need to know this is happening."
The NCS's policy on the matter says cases should be judged on a "case by case" basis, and the decision would be made by the local provider.
Participants are supposed to be asked by staff: “What their individual accommodation preferences are and which toilets, showers and changing rooms they are most comfortable using."
A spokesman for Safer Schools Alliance UK says the policy is "contrary to safeguarding and basic common sense".
The campaign group say they have been contacted by "several parents concerned that schools and other organisations are separating overnight accommodation by gender and not sex".
They told The Telegraph: “Children have a right to be safeguarded by the adults around them. With mixed-sex sleeping, there are issues with privacy and dignity and safety. There is the possibility of sexual harassment, assault and/or pregnancy.
“Organisations working with children have a duty to safeguard them. Safeguarding requires transparency and working together. Parents must be told whether their children are sleeping in single or mixed-sex accommodation. Adults must never abdicate their responsibility to safeguard and put the decision onto children."
NCS Chief Executive Mark Gifford insists safeguarding is of "paramount importance" and it is something that is taken "incredibly seriously".
“While our policy does acknowledge that accommodation decisions are made on a case-by-case basis by our delivery partners, we would never condone any decision that leaves a young person feeling vulnerable or at risk.
“Like many organisations, we are developing our policies in the light of increased focus and awareness of this important and complex issue.
“However, our overarching mission is to ensure that all young people, whoever they are, can benefit from the NCS programme. If this poses challenges to our organisation, we will address them while always ensuring that every young person is safe."