The Boy Scouts of America has recently told Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom in Ohio, that because of her sexual orientation, she can no longer serve as the den leader of her son’s local Cub Scout chapter. Although parents of the other boys in the den supported her, the local Boy Scout council revoked her membership.
The other local parents organized a peaceful protest in support of Tyrrell last night. Tyrrell herself has started a petition at Change.org asking the BSA to “Reconsider the policy of exclusivity against gay youths and leaders.”
She explains further that she led her cubs in several volunteer service projects around their community, guided them in earning multiple Scout badges, and taught them the 12 Core Values of Scouting: citizenship, compassion, cooperation, courage, faith, health and fitness, honesty, perseverance, positive attitude, resourcefulness, respect, and responsibility.
All of that mattered little, however. Tyrrell says:
The revocation of my membership came shortly after I was elected treasurer of my pack and uncovered some inconsistencies in the pack’s finances. Within a week of reporting these findings to the council, I received notice that my membership had been revoked, based on my sexual orientation, citing that because I’m gay, I did “not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks.”
There was an outcry of support for me by the parents of my Tiger Scouts, many of whom waited for hours to voice their concerns to members of the council and the pack’s charter organization, but were turned away without the opportunity to do so.
GLAAD, which is helping spread the word about Tyrrell’s situation, notes in a press release that “in 2004 the BSA adopted a new Youth Leadership policy which strips Boy Scout leaders of their positions in the organization and often denies them access to the organization all together. Just last year, the BSA removed an out lesbian from her volunteer post with a local Potomac Falls, VA chapter because of her sexual orientation.”
The BSA also rejected a Vermont lesbian mom who wanted to help with her son’s den in 2009.
As I told GLAAD, which asked me for a comment, lesbian and gay parents have proven themselves time and time again to be dedicated, caring, and trustworthy Scout leaders and volunteers, as evidenced by Jennifer and many others who have served in welcoming local Scout groups. It is shameful that the Boy Scouts organization has chosen to stigmatize Jennifer’s son by not letting his parents participate in the same way as those of his peers.