Scouts oust lesbian mum
Over a quarter of a million people have signed a petition calling upon the Boy Scouts of America to reinstate an Ohio woman as leader of her seven-year-old son’s local pack after officials earlier this month decided to kick her out for being lesbian.
Jennifer Tyrrell, 32, had been the den leader since September last year at the Bridgeport, Ohio chapter at which her son, Cruz, was a member after other parents asked her to take on the position.
Before taking on the role, Tyrrell (pictured with son Cruz) said she informed parents as well as the local Cubmaster about her sexual orientation knowing that the youth organisation has an official position against homosexuality, which includes a policy statement urging members to be “morally straight and clean”.
“He assured me at the local level it would never be a problem,” Tyrrell told The Los Angeles Times. “From day one, I was open and honest about it.”
On April 10 of this year, Tyrrell was informed by an official from the youth organisation that she had to resign as a complaint had been made against her.
Tyrrell said the timing of the decision was questionable, coming soon after she had raised queries regarding finances after becoming treasurer of the local troop.
Deron Smith, a spokesman for Boy Scouts of America, denied those claims and said Tyrrell’s removal was solely for being in violation of national policy and “unrelated to any other issue”.
“This policy was understood by her and her fellow volunteers, but not followed, upon her registering in the programme,” Smith said in a statement.
“Scouting, and the majority of parents it serves, does not believe it is the right forum for children to become aware of the issue of sexual orientation, or engage in discussions about being gay.”
Following the decision to remove Tyrrell, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) launched an online petition urging Boy Scouts of America to reinstate Tyrrell and stop discriminating against people for their sexual orientation.
“Jennifer's cubs performed volunteer service at a local soup kitchen, collected canned goods for area churches to distribute in food baskets, participated in bell-ringing for the Salvation Army, and were working on a conservation project for a state park,” the petition reads.
“It is time for the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its policy of exclusivity against gay youth and leaders.”
The petition has gathered over 255,000 since being created a fortnight ago, while parents from Tyrrell's son's scouts group have held protests outside a local church calling for her reinstatement.
Founded in 1910 as part of the international Scout Movement, the Boy Scouts of America is one of the largest youth organisations in the US with 2.7 million youth members and over one million adult volunteers.
Other organisations like the Girl Scouts and Boys & Girls Clubs of America already welcome gay youth as well as adult leaders.