Jennifer Tyrrell (centre) and her family
The Boy Scouts of America has refused to meet with an Ohio mother who was removed as scout leader of her seven year old son’s pack because she is lesbian.
Earlier this month, Jennifer Tyrrell was removed as a Tiger Cub den leader of Pack 109 after nearly a year of service, because of her sexuality.
Tyrrell’s plight came to wide media attention when she and her family appeared at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards in Los Angeles.
“The Boy Scouts are supposed to have a platform of tolerance, acceptance, and support – values that drew my son Cruz to be a scout, and that drew me to want to be a den leader,” Tyrrell told the audience at the awards on Saturday.
“Yet by continuing to dismiss gay youth and gay leaders from their organisation, the Boy Scouts of America is failing these values, harming families and communities by sending a message that all are not welcome.”
GLAAD reached out to the Boy Scouts of America to offer a meeting between BSA and Tyrrell, but the organisation refused.
BSA’s Director of Public Relations, Deron Smith, suggested in a statement to CNN that Tyrrell had made her sexual orientation an issue within the scouts.
“Our focus is on delivering the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Our mission does not include teaching young people about sex or sexual orientation, and we do not believe it is Scouting’s role to introduce this topic in our youth development program.”
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick, responded that “The only ‘character development’ and ‘values-based leadership training’ the Boy Scouts have taught our young people in this case is that blatant discrimination is OK.”
In reaction to the BSA’s statement, a number of parents of children in Pack 109 spoke out in support of Tyrrell’s record and noted that she never make her sexual orientation an issue.
“I’m not a city person. I’m just a backwoods hick, and I don’t think anybody around here have an issue with homosexuals. She did a wonderful job, and what they did to her was just horrible,” said fellow parent Robert Dunn.
Another, Patty Morgan, commented: “It has been brought to my attention that BSA is now saying that the boys were being taught about sex and other inappropriate subject matter. Those accusations are not true at all. I trust her with my children completely. It is sad that she must be defended against false accusations like these!”
Almost 140,000 people have signed a petition to have Tyrrell reinstated.
Last year, another lesbian mother was removed from a leadership position in her son’s Boy Scout troop after six years of service.
Lesbians and gays have been prohibited from becoming members or serving in leadership positions in the Boy Scouts of America since 1991.
The organisation’s position statement on the issue reads: “We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts.”
U.S. courts have affirmed the BSA’s right as a private organisation to place restrictions on its membership.