Boy Scouts wrong to dump gay mom leader
BY DR. LAURA BERMAN firstname.lastname@example.org May 8, 2012 10:47AM
This Wednesday, April 25, 2012 photo shows Jennifer Tyrrell and her son Cruz Burns, 7, during a visit to New York. Tyrrell 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)
Updated: June 10, 2012 8:04AM
Last month Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell was asked to resign as a Tiger Cub den leader by a representative of the Boy Scouts of America. The reason behind the unceremonious dismissal shocked and offended many Americans: Jennifer was barred from the organization because she is gay.
Apparently, the Boy Scouts of America have yet to earn an open-mindedness badge. They do not allow the inclusion of openly gay individuals in their organization, and according to spokesman Deron Smith, the Scouts is not the appropriate place to discuss sexual orientation.
Perhaps not. Yet it is absurd and bigoted to suggest that Tyrell and her partner would force a discussion of homosexuality, just as it would be absurd to suggest that a heterosexual couple would force a discussion of heterosexuality. Young Tiger Cubs don’t commune in one another’s living room to discuss sexuality of any kind, but rather to perform community service projects, grow as individuals and simply have fun. As a beloved den leader, Tyrrell helped Cubs do just that. She never made her sexuality or her private sexual choices a matter of discussion: The Boy Scouts of America did.
Whether or not you support homosexuality, it’s important not to lose sight of the true issue here: human rights. We live in a country that was built upon the separation of church and state, personal liberty, and the right to the pursuit of happiness, yet Tyrrell and men and women like her are denied all of the above on a daily basis. We should not discriminate against people based on whom they love any more than we should discriminate against individuals based on their skin color or religion. To do so is more than just small-minded — it is unconstitutional.
For an institution such as the Boy Scouts of America (which is almost as American as apple pie and baseball) to fly in the face of everything this country is built upon is nothing less than shameful. What lessons were implicitly (or explicitly) taught to the children in Tyrrell’s troop as she was rudely removed from her position in the name of “safety” for the children?
Removing Tyrrell from her post as den leader is nothing more than homophobia in action. As a country, we must move past this mistaken belief that homosexuality is “catching” or that it is something awful and dirty to “catch” in the first place.
Having two mothers isn’t going to make a child gay any more than having two heterosexual parents is likely to make him straight, but I do know one thing for sure: Having two bigoted parents is more likely to make him bigoted. Ignorance certainly is catching, and I shudder to think what type of messages were imposed upon this young troop as they saw their den leader being cast to the side due to her sexual orientation.
The very point of the Scouts is to teach young boys to be good citizens — to teach them to be intelligent, strong and fair, and yet the actions by this organization are the opposite of all three. We live in a society made up of so many different people and so many different families. Some children have divorced parents, some have blended families, others are adopted and some have two mommies or two daddies. Each of these children (and each of these adults) deserves to be treated with equality and fairness. To do otherwise is a violation of our rights as American citizens.
Visit www.change.org/scouts to sign the petition to have Jennifer Tyrrell reinstated as Tiger Cub Scout den leader. Dr. Berman is the star of “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman” on OWN and director of drlauraberman.com.
Dr. Berman is the star of “In The Bedroom with Dr. Laura Berman” on OWN and director of drlauraberman.com.