Eagle Scout delivers 275,000 signatures to Boy Scouts of America calling for an end to anti-gay discrimination
Orlando, FL, May 30, 2012 – Eagle Scout and outspoken equality advocate Zach Wahls today delivered more than 275,000 signatures to the Boy Scouts of America calling on the group to end its long history of anti-gay discrimination and reinstate Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who in April was forcibly removed as den leader of her son’s Boy Scouts troop because she’s gay.
Since launching her Change.org petition, Tyrrell has worked with GLAAD to share her story in national media, garnering support from celebrities including Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Ricky Martin, stars of Glee and more than a quarter million Americans. Actress and recording artist Kat Graham this week dedicated her musical performance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to Tyrrell and gay scouts everywhere.
Photos of today's signature delivery are available for download here:
After delivering the signatures, Wahls met briefly with Deron Smith, Public Relation Director with the Boy Scouts of America’s national office.
“While today's meeting was productive and thoughtful, the delivery of these petitions marks the beginning of this journey, not the end,” said Wahls. “I thought our dialogue today was an honest one, and I'm looking forward to continuing the conversation in the months ahead. We leave today one step closer to religious and personal freedom than when we arrived, and it's hard to be anything but thrilled about that."
Wahls, author of My Two Moms and whose online video in support of his gay moms went viral last year, delivered the signatures on behalf of Tyrrell. Wahls and Tyrrell will unite at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco this Saturday, June 2, to share their story. Wahls’ new initiative, Out to Dinner, which aims to bring together gay and allied families with those still deciding, will launch later this month. More information on Out to Dinner is available here: http://www.outtodinner.org
“I am so grateful for the support I’ve received from Zach and from the thousands of scouts, scout leaders and former scouts who have signed my petition,” said Tyrrell. “If you look at the petition comments, and read through the thousands of entries left by current scouts and scout leaders, it’s clear that the energy within the Boy Scouts of America’s membership is there to change this policy. All it takes now is leadership.”
Celebrities including Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Ricky Martin, Max Adler and Grant Gustin (Glee), Tamra Barney, Chaz Bono, Tabatha Coffey, Trevor Donovan, Fran Drescher, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Perez Hilton, LZ Granderson, Lisa Lampanelli, Joshua Jackson, Jane Leeves, Sean Maher, Kelly Osbourne, Kyle Richards, Darryl Stephens, Kim Wayans, Rita Wilson, and Lisa VanderPump have tweeted or showed support for Jennifer at the GLAAD Media Awards. Additional names here: http://glaad.org/equalityscouts
After being told on April 12, 2012 that she could no longer serve as her son's scout leader, Jennifer has inspired national support for the BSA to end the ban. David J. Sims resigned as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ohio River Valley Council of BSA following the decision, saying that it went against his "fundamental beliefs of how we should treat our fellow human beings and is, in my opinion, wholly discriminatory." To read his link click here. California lawmakers this month voted on a measure pushing the BSA to adopt more LGBT-friendly policies, The L.A. Times reported. 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.
Among those opposed to the ban on LGBT scouts is Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who said in a 1994 video: "I believe that the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country. I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation." Video of Romney's remarks is available is available at http://www.glaad.org/blog/republican-presidential-candidate-mitt-romney-gay-people-should-be-able-serve-boy-scouts
"By refusing to treat LGBT scouts and scout leaders with dignity and respect and by ignoring Jen's calls for a meeting, the BSA is working in direct opposition to the values-based leadership training which is at the root of scouting,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick.
Organizations including the Girl Scouts of America, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, as well as the 4H Club already welcome gay youth as well as adult leaders.
Live signature totals from Jennifer Tyrrell’s campaign:
CNN interview with Jennifer Tyrrell and son Cruz Burns:
http://www.cnn.com/video/ - /video/us/2012/04/25/nr-scout-den-mom-dismissed-gay.cnn
Kat Graham’s support for Jennifer Tyrrell on The Ellen DeGeneres Show:
Journalists interested in contacting Boy Scouts of America leadership:
Public Relations, Boy Scouts of America