UPDATE: Jennifer Tyrrell will be a guest on the April 18 episode of The Michelangelo Signorile Show. The interview will air LIVE at appoximately 3:30 p.m. EST on Sirius/XM radio's OUTQ (channel 108).
On Tuesday, April 17, we brought you the story of Jennifer Tyrrell of Bridgeport, Ohio. A devoted partner, mother, friend and community leader, Jennifer was removed from her volunteer post with a local Boy Scouts of America (BSA) chapter just because she's gay.
On Tuesday, shortly before she and her supporters held a peaceful protest outside the BSA chapter in Bridgeport, Jennifer launched a petition on Change.org that urges the Boy Scouts of America to end its policy of discrimination against LGBT youth and leaders. As of this blog post's writing, the petition has garnered almost 1,000 signatures and attention from sites including Towleroad, Mombian, Huffington Post, Queerty, Gay South Florida and Feministing.
Tuesday night's protest outside the local BSA chapter in Bridgeport drew about 50 participants, a sizable crowd for a small down in which protests are not the norm. The protest was covered by two local television stations: WTOV-9 (NBC) and WTRF-7 (CBS).
Bob Drury, a scout executive for the Ohio River Valley told WTOV-TV last night: “We do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals.” He continued: “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to develop a character and leadership skills and [for] the youth of today to become the leaders of tomorrow. Anything that distracts from that mission distracts from what our program is.”
WTOV-TV reported that the decision to remove Jennifer was “solely based on her sexual orientation.” Reporter Ryan Eldredge also said he was struck by “just how much support the former leader had from the members of her troop.”
A visibly emotional Tyrrell told Eldredge that she doesn't "want the kids to think this is okay."
BSA has a long history of discriminating against both gay youth and LGBT families. Most notably, in 2004 the BSA adopted a new Youth Leadership policy which strips Boy Scout leaders of their positions in the organization and often denies them access to the organization altogether. Just last year, the BSA removed an out lesbian from her volunteer post with a local Potomac Falls, VA chapter strictly because of her sexual orientation. None of BSA’s various Web sites currently contain non-discrimination policies with enumerated protected classes.
"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."
GLAAD has been working very closely with Jennifer by preparing her for press interviews and sharing her story with the nation.
“Lesbian and gay parents have proven themselves time and time again to be dedicated, caring, and trustworthy Scout leaders and volunteers, as evidenced by Jennifer and many others who have served in welcoming local Scout groups,” said Dana Rudolph, founder and publisher of popular LGBT parenting blog Mombian. “It is shameful that the Boy Scouts have chosen to stigmatize Jennifer's son by not letting his parents participate in the same way as those of his peers.”
If you haven't already done so, please take a moment to sign Jennifer's petition now. To keep up with the developments in Jennifer's story, be sure to follow @glaad on Twitter and "like" us on Facebook.