Ohio Scout Leader Ousted for Being Gay

Jennifer Tyrrell

Jennifer Tyrrell and son Cruz Burns, 7, traveled to New York from her home in Bridgeport, Ohio, to build momentum for a petition to overturn what she says are Ohio Boy Scout’s anti-gay policies, after she was removed as den leader for her son’s cub scout troop. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

BRIDGEPORT, Ohio — An Ohio scout leader has been told to resign by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) after her sexual preference was discovered by the council.

Jennifer Tyrrell was assisting in the organization and leadership of the Tiger Cub Scout Troop of Ohio’s Pack 109. She had recently accepted a position as treasurer and had many times accompanied the scouts on camping and other scouting events.

Tyrrell says she was assured by the local scout leader that it didn’t matter if she was gay. She had specifically brought this concern up because she was aware of the BSA’s policy and was wary of letting her 7-year-old son join. Tyrrell also stated that she was up front about her sexual orientation with all the parents at the first meeting and that the parents all seemed to accept her and this news. Some already knew her because she had coached youth baseball and volunteered at school, organizing class parties and reading to children.

“I teach my children to judge people on their actions,” said Rob Dunn, a father in Bridgeport, a village of about 2,000 across the Ohio River from Wheeling, W.Va. “Whether you agree with their lifestyle or not.”

The organization makes it very clear that scouting is not the place to address issues of sexual orientation.

This story has brought on strong controversy and LGBT rights groups calling for equality, again.

Gay male scout leaders have been banned from the BSA for many years, and some national stories back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s shed light on some of these cases. The BSA has a long standing policy regarding not just sexual preference, but also religious beliefs as well. It’s something that the Supreme Court deemed in 2000 to be constitutional because they are a private organization.

Here’s a quote from the BSA’s website:

The Boy Scouts of America is one of the nation’s largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations. The BSA provides a program for young people that builds character, trains them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.

For over a century, the BSA has helped build the future leaders of this country by combining educational activities and lifelong values with fun. The Boy Scouts of America believes — and, through over a century of experience, knows — that helping youth is a key to building a more conscientious, responsible, and productive society.

~ Boy Scouts of America

The key point in this statement, and something that is reiterated throughout the organization is values. What exactly those values are is up to the organization as a whole. And as such, it’s their business and their decision to create and enforce a set of rules and regulations to protect the integrity of their organization.

“In this case, the policy was understood by her and her fellow volunteers but not followed,” Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America told the Associated Press. “When a fellow pack leader made a complaint about it, to a local Scouting professional, they followed the policy.”

It is not likely that this case, if it becomes one, will even reach the Supreme Court, and if it did, precedent (and common sense) deems that it would once again be be found to be legal and constitutional.

———

Derek Drake

(Information from the Associated Press was used in the writing of this article.)

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