A former Boy Scouts leader, forced out because she is gay, is fighting for the organization to changes its policies.
The Boy Scouts’ ban on openly gay and lesbian members became a national conversation — after people came together to support an ousted den leader .
“My biggest concern is that the children will think I abandoned them because they don’t understand,” said Jennifer Tyrrell, a former Tiger Cub Leader
Tyrrell was dismissed as den leader because she is openly gay. She says it started when she also filled in as treasurer and soon started to notice financial inconsistencies within the local chapter. Tyrrell says she started asking questions, but shortly thereafter she was told she had to resign due – to the policy on gays and lesbians.
“The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to develop character and leadership skills in the youth of today to become the leaders of tomorrow. And anything that distracts from that mission, distracts from what our program is,” said Bob Drury, Boy Scouts of America Executive.
“I don’t want the kids to think that this is ok, because it’s not,” said Tyrell.
The decision ultimately led Tyrrell to remove her own 7 -year -old son from the scouts.
But since losing her leadership role in mid April, her story generated nearly 300,000 signatures on a petition through change.org.
It also sparked the creation of a new group — Scouts for Equality.
Co-founder Zach Wahls , who has same-sex parents, traveled to the Boy Scouts national convention in Orlando to meet with members, and deliver the petitions.
“Obviously the federal government has a policy thru the defense of marriage act that discriminates against people like my own parents and millions of other LGBT Americans, however, I’m unwilling to discard the entire organization, just like I’m unwilling to discard this country because of one single policy,” said Zach Wahls, Co-Founder Scouts for Equality.
This statement from the Boy Scouts of America makes the point, “we do not have an agenda on this matter. And the Boy Scouts membership policy is not meant to be a blanket statement on any group of people or a social commentary.”
But recently, the group indicated it “would” consider a resolution — filed by one of its members in April — asking that local units be allowed to determine their own standards.
A spokesperson says the decision to consider the resolution was not influenced by any of the petitions, and does not signal an imminent change of the policy.
It’s simply part of the process for careful and respectful review.
But Tyrrell is optimistic. “They’re making a huge stride,” she said. “Let’s not take that away from them.”
“Along with President Obama, they’re evolving,” said Tyrell. “And hopefully, eventually, they will get there…”