This has been a week that Jennifer Tyrrell of Bridgeport, Ohio will remember for the rest of her life.
Since Jennifer was ousted from her volunteer leadership position within her son's Boy Scouts troop on April 10, just because she's gay, Jennifer's story has shifted from one of pain and heartache to one filled with great promise for the future of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and our country.
On Tuesday, April 17, Jennifer and 50 of her closest supporters gathered outside the local BSA chapter in Bridgeport, Ohio, in peaceful protest of the chapter's decision to remove her just because she's gay. As Jennifer was getting ready for the protest that day, she received media training from GLAAD and launched a petition on Change.org. The petition urges the Boy Scouts of America to end their longstanding - and well-known - policy of discrimination against gay youth and LGBT families. At the time this was posted, more than 40,000 people have signed onto Jennifer's petition and taken a stand for equality.
On Friday, April 20, GLAAD announced that Jennifer Tyrrell will speak onstage at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles. If you're unable to be with us in person on this special night, we hope you'll make plans to watch Jennifer and her family share their story as they walk the red carpet leading to the Media Awards!
Jennifer's story has also received an incredible amount of media coverage. Just take a look at some of the links below. A few of the most noteworthy:
After interviewing Jennifer on his Sirius/XM Out Q radio program on Wednesday, April 18, Michelangelo Signorile wrote two pieces for The Huffington Post the next day. In light of Jennifer's experience with the Boy Scouts in Bridgeport, Ohio, the first of Signorile's pieces noted the irony of Susan Ungaro, the president of the prestigious James Beard Foundation, accepting an award from the Boy Scouts of America. Signorile pointed out that the late namesake of the James Beard Foundation was himself gay and the victim of anti-gay discrimination, and rightly pointed out that Ungaro was now receiving an award from an organization [the BSA] with a longstanding - and well-known - policy that discriminates against gay youth and LGBT families. Later that day, Signorile posted a second piece in which he thanked Ungaro for returning her Distinguished Citizen Award after realizing that it was bestowed by an organization [the BSA] that discriminates against gay youth and LGBT families, a practice of which James Beard would have wanted no part in. Signorile received the following note from Ms. Ungaro:
"While I support all the poverty and hunger-fighting programs of the Boy Scouts of America, including sending at-risk youth to camp, your report brought to my attention that accepting the Distinguished Citizen Award implied I support their anti-gay policy, which I absolutely do not. When I accepted the honor, I was focused on supporting the New Jersey chefs and restaurant community.
"I have informed the Boy Scouts of America that I am rescinding my acceptance of the award."
YouTube sensation, LGBT advocate and Eagle Scout Zach Wahls also penned a piece for The Huffington Post in which he movingly articulated why the BSA's expulsion of Jennifer Tyrrell hit particularly close to home. Prior to his speech in front of the Iowa House of Representatives last year (a speech that has since been viewed on YouTube nearly 17 million times, making it the most-watched political video of 2011), Wahls was himself an Eagle Scout (the highest rank within the BSA) and was raised by a lesbian couple, one of whom became the den mother of Zach's Cub Scouts Pack in 1998 and without issue. Zach writes:
"I learned in the Boy Scouts that bravery is not the absence of fear but the mastery of fear. But as long as this [anti-gay] policy remains the official position of the BSA, that lesson will ring hollow. I learned in the Boy Scouts the importance of standing up for what's right.
"If only the BSA were willing to do the same."
There have also been reports that the Cub Scout Master in Bridgeport, Ohio has resigned in the fallout of Jennifer Tyrrell being forced to give up her leadership position within her son's local BSA chapter.
On Saturday, April 21, at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, celebrities will join Jennifer in callling on the Boy Scouts of America to end their discriminatory policy against gay youth and LGBT families once and for all.
GLAAD has been working closely with Jennifer since hearing about her story, and we will continue to work with her until the BSA is a place where all boys and families are treated with the respect they deserve.
"The Boy Scouts of America is one of the only cultural institutions to categorically discriminate against LGBT Americans," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "Sending the message to America’s youth that they or their parents are somehow less than everyone else is dangerous, inaccurate and should be changed immediately."
If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to sign Jennifer's petition now. To stay up-to-date on Jennifer's story, be sure to follow @glaad on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.
Related Media Coverage: