National Trust U-turns hours after ‘wear badge or quit’ threat

The National Trust has backed down after an outcry over its treatment of volunteers who declined to promote the LGBT agenda – even though its leader had given helpers an ultimatum hours earlier.

Last week, it was revealed that volunteers at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk who did not want to wear an LGBT rainbow badge or lanyard were barred from meeting visitors.

But now the organisation has said wearing such badges is “optional and a personal decision” and said all volunteers can resume their public roles.

Free to quit

Less than 24 hours before the U-turn, the Trust’s Director-General said that volunteers who were unhappy at the wider programme of LGBT events could leave.

In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, Dame Helen Ghosh acknowledged that some volunteers at Felbrigg “have not been comfortable with the programme”.

“They are free to step back from the volunteer role, or take a different role for the duration”, she said.

Volunteers hidden away

The Trust is currently holding a “Prejudice and Pride” season to celebrate homosexuality and transsexualism, having “worked closely” with Stonewall to develop the campaign.

Controversy was caused by an email from the Trust, which said people could opt-out of promoting the LGBT agenda but if so “during this period we will ask you not to be on duty in a visitor-facing role”.

According to media reports, more than 70 volunteers at the Norfolk hall were unhappy with the situation. Some 30 people were offered non-public roles.

Dismay

The National Trust said 240 people had withdrawn their support over the row.

Hours after the letter from Dame Helen was published, the Trust said it would tell volunteers the lanyards were not compulsory.

It stated, “we are aware that some volunteers had conflicting, personal opinions about wearing the rainbow lanyards and badges. That was never our intention.

“We are therefore making it clear to volunteers that the wearing of the badge is optional and a personal decision”, the Trust said.

‘Pernicious’

Last week The Daily Telegraph described it as “pernicious” to force volunteers to “participate in this campaign or be banished to backroom tasks”.

Simon Calvert, Deputy Director at The Christian Institute, said the move was “the very opposite of tolerance and diversity”.

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