News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Ousted Den Mother: Boy Scouts Ban On Gays Hurts Families

In her light khaki uniform, Jennifer Tyrrell, her partner Alicia Burns and their children, 7-year-old Cruz and 5-year-old Jude, hauled three large boxes into the Irving Boy Scouts building. 

Inside were the signed online petitions.

Tyrrell was a den mother until the national organization discovered she was gay and kicked her out. That’s the policy.

"The thing is, I didn’t want to be in Scouts. It was a volunteer position I reluctantly accepted. But I fell in love with it.  And I’m here not to say anything negative about the Scouts. We love Scouts. We love everything the Scouts stand for," she said. "We do not love this policy. We want this policy to be changed."

Boy Scouts of America said in a statement it respected Tyrrell and her family, but after a two-year study by an 11-member committee, the organization reaffirmed its ban. Tyrrell wanted more information: Who was on the committee?

"I would ask for some  proof of that. Who did they meet with, who decided this? Because I have over 300,000 signatures that say to the contrary," she said. "I’ve never seen evidence that America does not want this change. How can 11 members of a team decide that the words of 300,000 people don’t matter?" 

Special education teacher Marlin Bynum, who is gay and supports Tyrrell, has protested outside Boy Scout Headquarters for weeks at a time. He says the  Scout policy violates basic civil rights.

"Civil rights means you have the same equality as another person. I cannot be a leader in the Boy Scouts of America," Bynum said. "I’m a special education teacher, I work with troubled kids in an alternative education situation and yet, they say I’m unqualified to lead young people? And yet that’s what I do professionally. That’s crazy." 

But nearby, three members of Mansfield’s Kingdom Baptist Church disagreed. They stood under shade trees with banners that read "Fear God." Joey Faust is the pastor. 

"We applaud the decision of the Boy Scouts and any organization that takes a stand for traditional morality or at least remains neutral in the culture war," Faust said.

Jennifer Tyrrell says neither Faust, nor the Boy Scout’s re-affirmed policy, will prevent her from trying to change the gay ban, because it hurts families and her son. 

" I just can’t tell you enough of the heartbreak that I felt when I got the phone call telling me I wasn’t good enough to be part of his life because I’m gay," Tyrrell said. "If you love a child you understand that when somebody hurts them, it’s much worse than when somebody hurts you . He shouldn’t have to deal with this on a daily basis."

Tyrrell says she will keep fighting until her son doesn’t have to deal with it anymore. 

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.