Last week I reported on how Jennifer Tyrrell, a Cub Scout den mother in Ohio, was dismissed from her position after local Boy Scout officials learned she is a lesbian.
Tyrrell was recruited to fill the position in the troop but was fired per national Boy Scouts policy despite strong opposition, which included protests at the Ohio River Valley Council meeting by her fellow parents. She says that she knew about Boy Scouts policy but was reassured that her sexuality would not be a problem.
Tyrrell has said that she was fired “shortly after I was elected treasurer of my pack and uncovered some inconsistencies in the pack’s finances.”
Zach Wahls, the teenage Iowan whose speech to Iowa’s State House in defense of his moms went viral last year, has pointed out, drawing from his own childhood experience, that Boy Scout policy is elective.
Boy Scouts stands alone from other youth organizations which welcome gay, lesbian or transgender kids as well as parents, such as the Girl Scouts of America, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the 4H Club.
Sunday night, Tyrell, with her partner and three children beside her, gave an emotional speech at the annual awards ceremony of the gay and lesbian advocacy organization GLAAD in Los Angeles, the trip which was the first time she had ever flown. She got on the plane because “we all agreed, it’s time to stand up.”
She told the star-studded crowd:
“There was an outcry from the parents who were beside themselves about this and the total disregard that I have to tell my seven year-old son that his mother can no longer participate in his scouting adventures. Cruz wasn’t raised to discriminate. He doesn’t understand. I taught all my scouts, just accept people for who they are. I hope that my story will help other kids and parents stand for these values.”
“One of my parents texted me a few days ago and said, ‘I want to thank you for bringing awareness to my prejudice. I’m ashamed of the way I used to feel about gay people.’ And I thought to myself, ‘if that’s the only person that I have changed, then that’s huge.’”
Watch Tyrell’s speech (but get out your handkerchief first):
In a media statement issued by GLAAD before the event, Tyrell said:
“The tide is turning. Together we can be heard, and this movement can send a message to the Boy Scouts that their policies against gay youth and gay leaders create nothing but division, frustration, and pain for scouting families and communities.”
Find out more about GLAAD’s support for Tyrell and her family here.
Photo credit: Youtube screengrab