A gay mother in Ohio has started a petition calling on the Boy Scouts of America to reverse its stance on expelling gay youths and leaders from the organisation.
Jennifer Tyrrell was told she could no longer be a den leader in the organisation because of her sexuality under the organisation’s long-standing gay exclusion policy.
The Boy Scouts of America has adopted positions since 1991 which state that homosexuality is “inconsistent with the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed”.
Its Scout Promise states: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
The Scout Law states: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”
In the UK, the Scout Association has an anti-discrimination policy and its promise states only: “On my honour, I promise that I will do my best, To do my duty to God and to the Queen, To help other people, And to keep the Scout Law.”
A 2010 legal challenge in Philadelphia of the gay ban confirmed that the private organisation was within its rights to exclude people on the basis of sexual orientation. Last month, the city was ordered to pay nearly $900,000 in legal fees.
GLAAD’s recently appointed president Herndon Graddick said: “The Boy Scouts of America is one of the last 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.”
Dana Rudolph, editor of gay parenting blog Mombian, said: “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.
“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.”
Ms Tyrrell’s petition, calling on the organisation to change its policies, states: “I was recently removed from this volunteer position, and my membership was revoked after nearly a year of service – just because I happen to be gay.”
The letter continues: “I received notice that my membership had been revoked, based on my sexual orientation, citing that due to being gay, I did ‘not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks’ [...]
“It is time for the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider their policy of exclusivity against gay youth and leaders. Please sign this petition to call for an end of discrimination in an organization that is shaping the future [...] Please join me and take a stand.”