In a 1994 video, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said:
I believe that the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country. I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation.
Romney’s statement echoes the opinion of over 146,000 Americans who have joined Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell’s Change.org action calling on the Boy Scouts of America to end its long history of discrimination against LGBT people.
Tyrrell was ousted as scout leader of her seven-year-old son’s boy scouts troop because she’s gay. A video of Jen sharing her story at the GLAAD Media Awards is available here. Celebrities including Josh Hutcherson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, as well as Glee stars Max Adler and Grant Gustin also showed support for Tyrrell and her family.
“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 crowd at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday. “Yet by continuing to dismiss gay youth and gay leaders from their organization, the Boy Scouts of America is failing these values, harming families and communities by sending a message that all are not welcome.”
“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,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Tossing aside the hard work and leadership of a committed mom because of who she loves is not a ‘value’ that a majority Americans want taught to their children.”
Tyrrell shared on Change.org:
My 7-year-old son, Cruz, loves being a Cub Scout, and he really loved when I got to be his pack’s den leader. But the Boy Scouts of America asked me to step down as the leader of my son’s group – just because I’m gay. Cruz doesn’t understand why that matters, and frankly, neither do I.
When Cruz told us last year that he wanted to be a Boy Scout, my partner and I were concerned. We knew the organization has discriminated against families like ours before. But the other families in Cruz’s group were so welcoming and supportive — they even asked me to be a den leader on the first day.
One year later, our fears came to life. A representative of the Boy Scouts of America abruptly told me I was no longer welcome — that because I’m gay, I didn’t “meet the high standards of membership that the Boy Scouts of America seek.”
Click here to read more of Tyrrell’s letter.
Among service organizations, the Boy Scouts are increasingly isolating themselves with their prohibition on gay youth and leaders. Organizations including the Girl Scouts of America, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, as well as the 4H Club all welcome gay kids as well as adult leaders. And just this month, the president of the James Beard Foundation announced that she would rescind her acceptance of the Boy Scouts’ Distinguished Citizen Award, noting the Scouts’ policy prohibiting gay people from service and leadership.