Ohio den mom confident no-gays policy would change

JOHN SEEWER Associated Press Published:

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- A move by the Boy Scouts of America to consider changing its policy of excluding gays goes beyond just the organization, according to a woman ousted as a den mother a year ago because she is a lesbian.

Jennifer Tyrrell, of the eastern Ohio city of Bridgeport, said she is thrilled for parents and their children who have been excluded from Scouting and "for those who are in Scouts and hiding who they are."

"For me it's not just about The Boy Scouts of America, it's about equality," Tyrrell said Monday. "This is a step toward equality in all aspects."

Tyrrell was told last April she could no longer be a part of her then-7-year-old son's den because she is a lesbian. Supportive parents organized a protest outside the church where the pack held its meetings and demanded she be reinstated.

Her story gained national attention and helped reignite a debate over the Scouts' policy, which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.

The Boy Scouts of America, whose oath calls for members to be "morally straight," has maintained for years that as a private organization it has the right to exclude gays and atheists from its ranks.

But the organization is now discussing a change that would allow the religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units to decide for themselves whether to continue an exclusion of gays or open their membership, BSA spokesman Deron Smith said Monday.

A change could be announced as early as next week following its national board meeting Feb. 6.

Tyrrell said that she told parents at their first meeting about her sexual orientation and that she was removed only after she was asked to take over as treasurer of the local Boy Scout troop.

She delivered a petition with 300,000 signatures to the organization's headquarters in Irving, Texas, last summer urging the organization to reinstate her.

"I knew we would have to win eventually because it's the right thing to do," she said, adding she hopes she and her son can eventually rejoin their Scout troop.

"I miss Scouting tremendously," she said. "I look forward to the day we can all participate equally."


Associated Press writer David Crary in New York contributed to this report.