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Gay Mom Ousted as Son's Cub Scout Leader to Speak at 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles

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President of James Beard Foundation returns Award to Boy Scouts of America as thousands call on BSA to follow Girl Scouts, other organizations in accepting all Americans

Rich Ferraro
Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8011
ferraro@glaad.org

April 20, 2012

Los Angeles, CA, April 20, 2012 - GLAAD, the nation's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, today announced that Jennifer Tyrrell, her partner Alicia Burns and their four children will speak at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, presented nationally by Ketel One and Wells Fargo on April 21, 2012 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, presented locally by Delta Air Lines.

GLAAD’s President Herndon Graddick, who was elected by GLAAD’s Board of Directors on April 14, will introduce Tyrrell and her family at the event, with special guests including Ellen DeGeneres, Josh Hutcherson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Perez Hilton, Betty White and the cast of Hot in Cleveland, among others.

To join Tyrrell by signing her Change.org petition visit: http://glaad.org/equalityscouts. GLAAD will live stream Jen and her family, as well as other celebrity guests, from the red carpet at http://glaad.org/live   

Tyrrell, a mother from Bridgeport, Ohio, made national headlines after she was ousted as her son’s den leader last week because she is gay. Thousands have signed Tyrrell’s online petition calling Pack 109 and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to end their ban on LGBT parents as well as the LGBT young adults who are barred from being part of the organization.   

Bob Drury, a scout executive for the Ohio River Valley, attempted to defend the decision to ban Tyrrell to WTOV-TV saying: “We do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avow 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.  And anything that distracts from that mission, distracts from what our program is.” WTOV-TV reported that the decision was “solely based on her sexual orientation.”

Tyrrell responded:
“Boy Scouts is about teaching kids to be better adults. We're not doing that by teaching them to hate or discriminate. They know that I care about them, that I lead them and that they can trust me. This is about parents being able to bond with their children. The Boy Scouts of America have denied me the ability to bond with my son and are teaching children to treat others unfairly.”

Yesterday, Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, announced that she would rescind her acceptance of BSA’s Distinguished Citizen Award after being alerted to BSA’s decision to oust Tyrrell by Sirius OutQ host and editor-at-large of Huffington Post Gay Voices Michelangelo Signorile.

Since GLAAD began work with Tyrrell, national outlets including the Associated Press, CNN.com and the Huffington Post have shared her story. GLAAD also called attention to organizations that have LGBT-inclusive policies. Among them: the Girl Scouts of America, the 4H Club, the Boys & Girls Club, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Campfire USA and the Miss Universe Organization.

LGBT advocate and author Zach Wahls, a former Eagle Scout and the son of two moms, also spoke out: “That the Boy Scouts of America continue to engage in blind discrimination, fixated on the identity of its adult leaders instead of the content of their characters, is both disappointing and discouraging.” Wahls’ op-ed is available here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zach-wahls. Wahls’ first book, “My Two Moms:  Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family” will be released next week. His speech before the Iowa Senate has been viewed over 18 million times on YouTube.
 
"Jen’s moving story serves as a reminder of the unfair laws and policies which serve one purpose: to hurt LGBT Americans," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "The Boy Scouts of America is one of the only cultural institutions to categorically discriminate against LGBT Americans. 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.”

Ellen DeGeneres will open the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday, April 21. Advocate and author Chaz Bono will receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, and Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson will receive the Vanguard Award in recognition of his work to promote equality. Guests will enjoy a performance by Grammy Award-winning singer and LGBT equality advocate, Jason Mraz. Other special guests include:  Betty White, Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves (Hot in Cleveland); Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family); Joshua Jackson (Fringe); Kim Wayans (Pariah); Molly Shannon (Casa de mi Padre); LGBT advocate and writer Perez Hilton, pop singer and star of the Vampire Diaries Kat Graham; Trevor Donovan (90210); Fran Drescher (Happily Divorced); Shay Mitchell (Pretty Little Liars); Brooke Elliott, Josh Berman (Drop Dead Diva); Gilles Marini (Switched at Birth); Jamie Clayton (Hung); Ali Larter (The Asset); Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato (Becoming Chaz); writer LZ Granderson; Mike Mills (Beginners); and decorated Air Force veteran Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, among others. 

Nominees for the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards were announced in January and are available here: http://www.glaad.org/mediaawards/nominees.  The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives.

The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles on April 21, 2012 at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and Suites; and in San Francisco on June 2 at San Francisco Marriott Marquis. Glee's Dianna Agron will host the show in San Francisco, with a special performance by Cirque du Soleil’s Mystère.  Shonda Rhimes (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal) will receive the Golden Gate Award.  Facebook and Wells Fargo will receive special awards at the event.

To receive the latest updates on the GLAAD Media Awards, follow @glaad on Twitter and use the hashtag #glaadawards.

The GLAAD Media Awards fund GLAAD's work to bring stories of LGBT people and issues to Americans.  Each year, the GLAAD Media Awards in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco bring together more than 5,000 advocates and allies to raise nearly $3.5 million for the organization's work.

More than 100 corporate partners are showing their support, including National Presenting partners Ketel One and Wells Fargo, New York Presenting partners Delta Air Lines and Prudential, Los Angeles Presenting partner Delta Air Lines, and San Francisco Presenting partner Southwest Airlines.  GLAAD is also grateful to the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards Platinum Underwriter corporate partners: Anheuser-Busch, Inc., Comcast/NBC Universal, Disney-ABC Television Group/ESPN, IBM, Sheppard Mullin and Time Warner, as well as Underwriter corporate partners: Allstate Insurance Company, AT&T, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, David Yurman, Food Network/Cooking Channel, The Los Angeles Lakers, New York City Marriott Marquis & Renaissance Hotel, PricewaterhouseCoopers, VPI Pet Insurance and Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites.  For a full list of corporate partners and information on how to become a corporate partner or a table host, purchase tickets and place a tribute in the tribute book, please visit www.glaad.org/mediaawards or call (212) 219-0111.