Boy Scouts Expel Mom As Son’s Den Leader — Just Because She Is a Lesbian

Jennifer Tyrrell and Son

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 Within a week of reporting these findings to the council, I received notice that my membership had been revoked, based on my sexual orientation, citing that because I’m gay, I did “not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks.”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.

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7 thoughts on “Boy Scouts Expel Mom As Son’s Den Leader — Just Because She Is a Lesbian

  1. I didn’t need another reason not to let DS join BS, but there you go. He’s asked, sort of. His cousin (who he doesn’t see often) is in & one boy in his class. So far I’ve been able to brush it off by saying he doesn’t need to join because we do all that stuff anyway. He’s only 5, so that works, but I’m sure we have a convo about the real reason soon.

    • I don’t want my kids to join BS either because I don’t support organizations that are anti-people. DH is torn – he had good experiences as a Scout during the otherwise bullied years of his childhood. He thinks we should troop-shop to find one that is accepting. I still say No, but I am worried that our kids will miss out on something they would thrive in, or at least find a haven.
      At least GSUSA is good, but that doesn’t help me…

  2. It’s interesting to me that when people or organizations make these kinds of policies, they draw way more attention to the postive apects of families (all kinds of families) than if they just let the issue drop. Kids don’t really care (or want to know) about their parents sexuality or sexual preference. And if they think about it at all, it’s a big “whatevs”. But now, the scouts in this troop, and maybe others, will ask, “why can’t Billy’s mom be den leader any more, I liked her?” and be more curious and ask questions.
    Just had this convo with a co-worker, as we shared stresses of partners, and co-parenting, and our own aging parents, and our parnters aging-parents……lots of similarities in life-stories, and really only one significant difference: our partners, who we love but also drive us crazy, are different genders.

    I am the optimist who thinks that by the time our kids are adults, it will be a non-issue,. Just as my son laughed at my cassette tapes the other day, his kids will laugh at policies that exclude based on sexual orientation.

    • I completely agree. When my compulsive joiner asked about signing up for boy scouts I didn’t say no, but I explained that they reject people like his baseball coach. He reacted with an incredulous mix of outrage and disdain. He hasn’t mentioned scouting since.

    • “I am the optimist who thinks that by the time our kids are adults, it will be a non-issue,. Just as my son laughed at my cassette tapes the other day, his kids will laugh at policies that exclude based on sexual orientation,” Sue said above.

      I don’t know if there’s another way to do a block quote, but I hope this works. Anyway, I am not optimistic that it will totally be a non issue, but I think it will be lessened a great deal. I think that in most of society, it will be just normal that lgbt people are integrated and accepted, but there will be plenty of bigots around and some institutions that hold on to the prejudice. Just like now with women not being allowed in leadership in the Catholic church, and in most evangelical denominations. While most of the world presumes women are suited for leadership, you have this whole host of folks believing and acting out women being submissive.

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