CNN’s LZ Granderson broke news today that the Boy Scouts of America will stand by its discriminatory policy that led to the ousting of Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell as scout leader of her son’s Boy Scouts troop because she’s gay.
In a statement to Granderson today, BSA’s Director of Public Relations, Deron Smith said the following:
"Our focus is on delivering the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Our mission does not include teaching young people about sex or sexual orientation, and we do not believe it is Scouting's role to introduce this topic in our youth development program."
Over 130,000 people have signed Jen’s Change.org action calling for an end to the discriminatory policy. As reported by the New York Daily News yesterday, celebrities including The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson, as well as Glee’s Max Adler and Grant Gustin also expressed their support for Jen at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in L.A. on Saturday.
“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.”
In response to the BSA’s statement, parents of children in Pack 109 spoke out in support of Jen, saying she did a “wonderful job” as scout leader.
Said fellow parent Robert Dunn:
"I'm not a city person. I'm just a backwoods hick, and I don't think anybody around here have an issue with homosexuals. She did a wonderful job, and what they did to her was just horrible. When I told my son Jen was kicked out because she is gay, he didn't know what was wrong because he thought gay meant happy. He's just devastated."
Said Don Thomas, whose grandson is a scout in Tyrrell’s pack, said either he or his wife has been to "every cub scout meeting my grandson has attended, also to every function, community event, Salvation Army ringing bells, collection of food for the needy...etc. I do not know where you are getting your information, but never ever has sex been brought up, not in any way shape or form. In fact, I was not aware of Jen even being gay for quite some time...wasn't an issue or concern."
Said parent Crystal Sabinsky:
"The boys knew her as Tiger Leader Jen, not Gay Tiger Leader Jen. They are only first graders. Most don't even understand what 'gay' or 'lesbian' mean."
Said parent Patty Morgan:
"It has been brought to my attention that BSA is now saying that the boys were being taught about sex and other inappropriate subject matter. Those accusations are not true at all. I have three children in Scouts. My youngest Jordan, was a Tiger scout with Jen. Jen has been a great leader in our scouting family. I trust her with my children completely. It is sad that she must be defended against false accusations like these!"
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.