GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today joined Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell in calling on the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to change a discriminatory policy that prohibits LGBT people from serving as troop den leaders.
Bridgeport, Ohio resident Jennifer Tyrrell was told that she would no longer be able to serve as a den leader of her son’s Cub Scout chapter on Tuesday, April 10, 2012 by the District Councilmember because she is gay. In response, parents and scouts from Pack 109 held a peaceful protest outside of the local BSA chapter on the evening of Tuesday, April 17, 2012 to show support for Tyrrell.
Bob Drury, a scout executive for the Ohio River Valley, attempted to defend the decision to WTOV-TV following the show of support saying, “We do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avow homosexuals.” He continued, “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to develop a character and leadership skills and [for] the youth of today to become the leaders of tomorrow. And anything that distracts from that mission distracts from what our program is.”
WTOV-TV reported that the decision was “solely based on her sexual orientation.” WTOV-TV reporter Ryan Eldredge said he was struck by “just how much support the former leader had from the members of her troop.”
Tyrrell, who served as a den leader for more than a year after registering her son for the Boy Scouts, launched a Change.org petition calling on BSA to end its pattern of discrimination against LGBT people.
“The Boy Scouts of America is one of the only cultural institutions to categorically discriminate against LGBT Americans,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Sending the message to America’s youth that they or their parents are somehow less than everyone else is dangerous, inaccurate and should be changed immediately.”
BSA has a long history of discriminating against both gay youth and LGBT families. Most notably, 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. None of BSA’s various websites currently contain non-discrimination policies with enumerated protected classes.
Tyrrell wrote on Change.org:
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.
“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,” said Dana Rudolph, founder and publisher of popular LGBT parenting blog Mombian. “It is shameful that the Boy Scouts have chosen to stigmatize Jennifer’s son by not letting his parents participate in the same way as those of his peers.”