On that long-running animated series, the boys wanted Big Gay Al back as their Boy Scout troop leader after he was given the boot for being gay. So, they petitioned the Scouts and got the rules changed to bring Big Gay Al back, only to find that Big Gay Al himself felt the Scouts shouldn’t be forced to change their mind but hopes they will be able to be persuaded to do the right thing.
Real life doesn’t have writers that wrap things up so nicely. In real life, the Boy Scouts have been under fire for their gay exclusion policy for years.
Pink News reports that the latest challenge comes from Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrell, who was told, after a year of voluntary service, she could no longer be a den leader because of her sexual orientation. Jennifer has petitioned the Boy Scouts to have the policy changed. The full petition is online here at Change.org.
In addition to enumerating all the good work her Tiger Cubs did while she was overseeing the group (volunteering at a soup kitchen and a state park conservation project among them), she also says that the revocation of her membership “came shortly after I was elected treasurer of my pack and uncovered some inconsistencies in the pack’s finances.”
“Within a week of reporting these findings to the council,” Jennifer says, “I received notice that my membership had been revoked, based on my sexual orientation, citing that because I’m gay, I did ‘not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks.’”
Natalie Hope McDonald of the Philadelphia Magazine’s G Philly blog reports that a peaceful protest was planned outside Tyrell’s former troup’s BSA headquarters by parents angered by this and similar discriminatory oustings all over the country.
McDonald reports that Philadelphia was the cite of a battle over the BSA’s use of a government building. The city is fighting to have the Scouts leave because they have a discriminatory policy while the city does not. In a civil jury trial, the court has ruled that because the BSA is a private organization, they can discriminate.
“The financial matter is still pending with the city held liable for the Scout’s legal fees,” McDonald writes.
Pink News reports that since 1991 the BSA has had a policy stating 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.”
Here’s the Scout Promisee: “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 Oath “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent,” and the 12 core values of scouting: citizenship, compassion, cooperation, courage, faith, health and fitness, honesty, perseverance, positive attitude, resourcefulness, respect and responsibility.
How teaching boys to treat gay people as less-than encourages them to be loyal, helpful, kind, compassionate, cooperative or any of those other values … Well, it must be some kind of Magic Eye optical illusion because we can’t see it.
As for bravery, Jennifer Tyrell seems more brave by being an out Scout (or former Scout) than anyone who hides behind tradition to justify bigotry.