Former Guides CEO Karyn Lisignoli says she’s a victim of “cancel culture”

Karyn Lisignoli, who spent less than a fortnight as the CEO of Girl Guides WA before being dismissed from her position, says she’s a victim of “cancel culture”.

OUTinPerth revealed back in December that the Girl Guides of WA’s new CEO was exploring options for changing the organisation’s rules so that transgender girls would no longer be able to be part of the membership.

In a public post on Twitter Karyn Lisignoli reached out to Katherine Deves, the head of Save Women’s Sport Australia, asking for advice on changing the Girl Guides constitution so it explicitly stated “biological female”.

Lisignoli requested legal advice from the group who campaign against transgender women completing in sport, asking if changing the wording of the organisation’s constitution would be breaking the law.

In her social media post the newly appointed CEO said the Guides’ policies were “pandering to an ideology”.

In a series of emails with OUTinPerth Lisignoli outlined her views saying changing the organisation’s policy was something she was considering, and suggested an interview to expand upon her thoughts.

However when OUTinPerth called for the scheduled chat Lisignoli was no longer available, and the Girl Guides WA released a statement saying her views did not reflect those of the organisation.

The former CEO has now revealed to The Australian newspaper that the following day she was dismissed from her job, with Girl Guides Chairperson Yvonne Power declaring her tweet had “exposed the organisation to serious reputational risk’’.

“You made external statements that undermine the policy of the organisation and were made without due consideration of our governance structure.

“We consider that your actions constitute serious misconduct warranting summary dismissal.’’ Power stated in the termination notice.

Speaking publicly about her dismissal for the first time, Lisignoli said she had been motivated by a concern about safety implications for girls sharing tents with ‘men or boys identifying as female’.

“This is a classic case of cancel culture,” she told The Australian Friday. ­“Inclusion has been taken too far.

“If we include trans girls who are biological males, they can go to mixed-sex school camps.”

Lisignoli said that many parents may not be aware that their shy and nervous teenage daughters might be sharing a tent or a bathroom with a transgender girl several years older.

Speaking to OUTinPerth, Trish Manten, National CEO of the Girl Guides has confirmed that there are no plans to change the organistation’s stance on inclusion, and they ensure their policies are inline with anti-discrimination laws.

“Girl Guides Australia will continue to review policies in accordance with our governance requirements and with consideration to legislative changes.

“We value diversity and Girl Guiding Australia is committed to providing a respectful, open and safe environment where all people are treated equitably and with mutual respect regardless of their background, ethnicity, culture, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or level of ability.” Manten said.

Manten said the comments from Karyn Lisignoli did not represent the views of the organisation on either a state or national level.

“The comment made was a personal view; we would hope that any current members who have transgender children or family members in Girl Guiding feel we are an inclusive organisation that considers the needs of its members.”

The Guides commitment to embracing diversity and fostering inclusion was restated by Chief Commissioner Rosemary Derwin who said the guidelines has been drawn up in 2018 to ensure the organisation complied with state and territory legislation.

“There was never a push from the transgender community telling us to do that,’’ she said. “Girls and women who identify and live in the community as female are welcomed in our organisation.’’ she told The Australian.

“We don’t ask parents: is your daughter a transgender girl or a biological girl, as that would be discriminatory in itself,’’ she said. “All people are treated equally and with mutual respect regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. If a transgender girl goes to school as a girl, and her friends go to Guides, it’s important they can come too, otherwise it’s discriminatory.” 

Graeme Watson

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