By Dave Tombers
An Ohio woman who is living a lesbian lifestyle is coordinating an attack on the Boy Scouts of America over the organization’s long-standing policy of not allowing people in same-sex lifestyles to be leaders of young children.
Jennifer Tyrrell, who knew of the policy when she took over the local leadership post, was removed recently from the position of leading her son’s Tiger Cub pack based on the policy, which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
David J. Sims, a Democrat on the Ohio County Commission and a board member of the Ohio River Valley Council of the BSA, soon followed her out the door, stating: “I understand that this action … is legal. However, Ms. Tyrrell’s removal goes against my fundamental beliefs of how we should treat our fellow human beings and is, in my opinion, wholly discriminatory.”
Now an online petition has been set up, and Tyrrell is campaigning against the Scout’s policy, stating in the Los Angeles Times, “We’re still hoping the Boy Scouts will do the right thing and just change [the policy].”
The Scouts, however, have held to the standard for a century. The organization fought a court battle a decade ago for its right to set standards for leaders who interact with children.
It was in 2000 that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts of America, a private organization, had the right to enforce a “morally straight” standard, even if prevented homosexuals and atheists from being leaders.
The Scouts insist that their program is not the proper forum to have discussions about sexual orientation, but Tyrrell disagrees and believes the Scouts should adopt her position.
“It is time for the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its policy of exclusivity against gay youth and leaders,” states the online petition posted in support of Tyrrell. “Please reinstate Jennifer’s post in the Boy Scouts of America – and end the discrimination in your organization – an organization that is responsible for shaping the future of young men across the country.”
In an email to WND the Boy Scouts said, “Scouting’s focus is on delivering a program of character development and leadership training.
“Scouting, and the majority of parents it serves, does not believe it is the right forum for children to become aware of the issue of sexual orientation, or engage in discussions about being gay. Rather, such complex matters should be discussed with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting.”
The Scouts have established a policy that includes multiple layers of protection for young people.
The Youth Protection Program was implemented to limit the opportunities for abuse by adults and also to protect leaders from accusations of impropriety. For example, it requires that no leader is allowed to be alone with a Scout at any time.
The program also includes criminal background checks, mandatory training and other features that later were copied by other organizations.
The Scouts say, and the Supreme Court agrees, that the organization is private and has a right to establish its own policies.
“We fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one position or policy,” Scout officials said. “To disagree does not mean to disrespect, and we respect everyone’s right to have and express a different opinion.
“Scouting will continue to teach our members to treat everyone with courtesy and respect.”
Tyrrell, meanwhile, campaigns to have the organization meet her own standards.
She has traveled from her home in Ohio to New York and wants, according to an San Francisco Chronicle columnist, “to try and build momentum” for her petition. Her lesbian partner signed on to the petition and provided commentary on why she supports Tyrrell.
“I would like to start by saying I am Jennifer’s partner, and as parents it has been our hope to shield our four children from this kind of bigotry and hatred,” she writes. “I’m offended that Jennifer’s sexuality has been exploited to mask deeper problems within the organization.”
Tyrrell writes in her change.org complaint that the local Scout leaders knew that she was lesbian. She contends they only pushed her out of the organization when she became the troop treasurer and questioned some financial “inconsistencies.”
Online, Tyrrell boasts that under her time as den leader, a post she was persuaded to accept because of “a platform of tolerance, acceptance and support,” “my cubs performed volunteer service at a local soup kitchen, collected canned goods for area churches to distribute in food baskets, participated in bell-ringing for the Salvation Army and, at the time of my removal, were working on a conservation project for a state party.”
She continued: “The revocation of my membership came shortly after I was elected treasurer of my pack and uncovered some inconsistencies in the pack’s finances. Within a week of reporting these findings to the council, I received notice that my membership had been revoked, based on my sexual orientation, citing that because I’m gay, I did ‘not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks.”
WND reported that Barack Obama, who like other presidents serves as the Scouts’ honorary chairman, declined to attend the group’s 100th anniversary celebration in 2010, instead attending a fundraiser and a television talk show.
More than 43,000 Boy Scouts were at the centennial at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, but Obama was on “The View.”
In a series of WND columns at the time, Chuck Norris said Obama is “distancing his administration from the Boy Scouts of America, via delaying Eagle Scout certificate signings, denying the invitation to go to the BSA’s 100th gala anniversary, downplaying his acceptance of BSA’s honorary presidency, dodging official White House communications about the BSA, not defending the BSA against cultural attacks and, hence, devaluing his all-around role as BSA’s honorary president.”
“All that the BSA website could write about President Obama was that he received the BSA’s 2008 Report to the Nation from a group of young people representing all the Scouts of America. In recognition of the president’s favorite sport, the report’s delegation also gave him a BSA basketball that each of them had signed,” Norris wrote.