Ousted Ohio Lesbian Scout Leader: ’Surprised, Amazed & Humbled’ by Support
When the Boy Scouts of America expelled Jennifer Tyrrell from her volunteer work as a den leader of her son’s Cub Scout group in Bridgeport, Ohio, she thought the matter would pretty much end there. But her determination to fight what she saw as unfair and discriminatory has made her a national symbol in the fight against the policies of the national boys’ organization.
Tyrrell first took her fight to Change.org, where she created an online petition urging the BSA to stop discrimination against LGBT boys and parents. Then, as reported here, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination took up her cause.
GLAAD brought Tyrrell, her children and her spouse, to their awards dinner in Los Angeles, where she was received with a standing ovation. Her emotional speech pointed out the hypocrisy of the BSA, which purports to be a non-denominational organization to all boys.
Gratified by Local Support
In the most recent show of support for Tyrrell on all levels, an Ohio regional BSA board member has resigned to protest Tyrrell’s explosion from her son’s troupe. When David Sims resigned from the Ohio River Valley Council’s board, he noted, "Ms. Tyrrell’s removal goes against my fundamental beliefs of how we should treat our fellow human beings and is, in my opinion, wholly discriminatory."
In an interview with EDGE, Tyrrell expressed her gratitude at the outpouring of support she has received from the national gay community, her local community, and straight allies. "I was very surprised and amazed and humbled," she said of her neighbors’ very vocal support.
"I was proud that they really stood behind me," she added, noting that she had always been very involved in her son’s activities, from softball coaching to the school’s PTA. Tyrrell originally volunteered because the troupe was having trouble finding a parent who would take the time to devote to the duties of being a den leader.
"All the parents are standing behind me, very supportive," she said. Her sexuality was never discussed when she was proposed for the position. It was only when a BSA leader was apparently told and referred it to higher BSA authorities, that it became an issue; but never on the local level.
The ironic part of this situation, Tyrrell pointed out, is that the parents only now have to have "that conversation" with their kids about sexual identities: ironic, because it’s the BSA’s suspension and the consequent media firestorm that has made the kids ask questions that otherwise would not have been raised.