Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell delivered more than 300,000 petition signatures and met with Boy Scout officials at the Boy Scouts’ headquarters on Wednesday, calling for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and LGBT leaders. (Photos appear at the bottom of this post.)
In April, Jennifer launched a Change.org petition urging the group to change its policies after she was ousted as leader of her seven-year-old son’s Cub Scouts pack because she’s gay. Despite the overwhelming support for the policy change, however, the Boy Scouts announced on Tuesday that it would maintain its ban on gay scouts and LGBT leaders, citing a secret 11-member committee which, the Scouts say, reviewed the ban and concluded that discrimination is "is absolutely the best policy.”
At the petition delivery, where Tyrrell met with Boy Scouts of America national spokesperson Deron Smith, Tyrrell said that no secret committee will be able to silence the overwhelming number of people who want to see the Boy Scouts join organizations including the Girl Scouts of the USA, the 4-H Club, Boys and Girls Club and the United States Armed Forces in ending the ban. Scout officials, however, confirmed that Jennifer would not be reinstated at this time.
“This movement doesn’t stop because 11 anonymous men behind closed doors made a decision to keep discrimination in place,” Tyrrell said. “This petition may have started out for me and my son, but it’s grown into something much bigger. Something much more important. Today, when you read through the comments on my petition, you can read the stories of literally thousands of scouts, scout leaders and former scouts who are hoping the Boy Scouts of America will take this moment and end this policy of discrimination against gay Americans.”
Among those supporting Jennifer’s petition is Zach Wahls, the Eagle Scout and son of two gay moms who became a viral video sensation for his defense of marriage for gay couples before the Iowa Senate. Zach recently co-founded the organization Scouts for Equality, which is mobilizing current scouts and scout families to oppose the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policies. Zach said that the Boy Scouts’ secret committee not only sounded suspicious, but was an affront to many of the values at the core of the scouting mission.
“One of the core values of scouting is trustworthiness. The three million members of the Boy Scouts deserve to see formal documentation describing who the members of this subcommittee are, how they reached their conclusion, what exactly that conclusion is, when it was reached and to whom these people are responsible,” Zach said. “Until that happens, color me highly skeptical about anything that this committee has or has not decided.”
Zach also announced on Wednesday that he’s launched a new Change.org petition calling on the BSA to allow its Executive Board to vote on a resolution that would end the ban once and for all. That resolution was originally scheduled to be considered in May 2013. In addition, Zach will attend the National Order of the Arrow Conference, a conference attended by thousands of the most elite scouts in the country, on July 30 in Michigan, where he will organize Eagle Scouts and other Boy Scouts to challenge the Scouts’ discriminatory ban.
"The real people impacted by this ban are gay young adults who are forced to hide who they are as well as the children of gay parents who are denied an opportunity to participate their children's lives,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “By standing behind this ban, the Boy Scouts of America are contributing to a climate that promotes the bullying of gay young people and putting parents in a place where they are forced to explain to their children why some scouts and hard-working scout leaders are not welcomed in the organization. Discrimination is not a value that should be associated with scouting."
See photos of Jennifer delivering her petition at the Boy Scouts’ Dallas headquarters below. Even more photos can be found on GLAAD's Facebook page.