On May 22 - 24, the Boy Scouts of America's National Council will vote on a resolution that will allow gay youth to participate in the organization, but will maintain its ban on gay parents like me. I'm urging the Boy Scouts to consider a resolution that would end the ban on both gay youth and parents and allow me to continue Scouting with my son, Cruz.
My name is Jennifer Tyrrell. I am a devoted partner, mother, friend and community leader in Bridgeport, Ohio. I'm also a former Tiger Cub den leader with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). In April 2012, I was removed from this volunteer position, and my membership was revoked after nearly a year of service -- just because I happen to be gay. Since then, I've been working with organizations like GLAAD and fellow Scouts to help end the Boy Scouts' anti-gay policy.
No parent should ever have to look their children in the eyes and tell them their family isn't good enough. But the Boy Scouts' current proposal forces gay parents and adult leaders to do just that.
The BSA knows that its latest proposal is simply not good enough. Discrimination is never OK! The fact that the BSA has the legal right to deny LGBT people membership doesn't mean that it is morally right.
Segregated public schools were declared unconstitutional in 1954 by a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, but the Boy Scouts of America included racially segregated units as late as 1974. It took the BSA 20 years to catch up to society in regard to the treatment of black people. In fact, it only conceded when legally forced to do so.
Women were not allowed to hold the posts of Cubmaster or Scoutmaster until 1988, although they were allowed to participate in Cub Scouting as "den mothers." Catherine N. Pollard sued in Connecticut state courts to be allowed the post of Scoutmaster. Although the court ultimately ruled against her, in 1988 the BSA's executive board voted to allow women to hold the post of Scoutmaster. So less than 25 years ago women were still being discriminated against in this archaic institution!
Now, loving and devoted parents like me and Greg Bourke are being refused membership. We just want to be involved in our children's lives and watch them grow into wonderful, productive adults. Please stop denying us that right.
This resistance to change is unhealthy behavior and has a negative effect on society and, more importantly, encourages discrimination and intolerance. The American Medical Association (AMA) has reaffirmed that "there is no basis for the denial to any human being of equal rights, privileges, and responsibilities commensurate with his or her individual capabilities and ethical character because of an individual's sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or transgender status, race, religion, disability, ethnic origin, national origin, or age."
People have already been telling the BSA that they do not approve; the organization has had more than a 21-percent decline in new membership since 1999 and the Boy Scouts of America v. Dale Supreme Court case. I wager a guess that if the BSA continues down this path, they will ultimately discriminate themselves into extinction. We love the BSA and do not want to see this happen. Despite this one policy, the BSA is a valuable institution in our society. It is our hope that they listen to the people who care about their future and include everyone.
The NOH8 campaign has joined in to assist in our journey to a better Boy Scouts. I had a private photo shoot in my hotel room in Los Angeles after the 25th annual GLAAD Awards. I am honored to not only support the amazing NOH8 project but help launch a new branch.
Call to action: Tell the BSA that we want NOH8 in scouting!
Please sign my petition asking the Boy Scouts of America to allow LGBT parents like me to participate in our children's lives! And please share it on Facebook and Twitter!
If you are a Boy Scout, a Scout Leader, an Eagle Scout or formerly any of the aforementioned, you can come to any open NOH8 shoot in uniform, and you will be photographed by the one and only Adam Bouska for free!
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