Lesbian Cub Leader Fired for Being Gay, Fights Boy Scouts

PHOTO: Jennifer Tyrrell, 32, and her son Cruz, 7, of Troop 109 in Bridgeport. Ohio, are shown.
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Jennifer Tyrrell, the den leader who was "fired" by her local Cub Scout troop for being gay, said that her 7-year-old son Cruz will not remain in the national organization because of its discrimination against gay leaders and scouts.

In March, the Boy Scouts of America removed Tyrrell from her position, telling her that her sexual orientation "did not meet the high standards" of conduct set by the Boy Scouts of America

"We can no longer support an organization that has these policies and we hope to get them changed," said Tyrrell. "That is our main goal."

"But Cruz is a little sad," Tyrrell added. "We loved scouting."

The boy told ABCNews.com that he had enjoyed camping and earning badges with his local Tiger Cub troop 109 since September.

The troop asked his mother to step down as leader after they told her "it was known you are gay," said Tyrrell, 32.

The Bridgeport, Ohio, mother of four has waged a campaign to bring awareness to the Boy Scout policy on Change.org. Ultimately, she said she wants the organization to accept gay leaders and scouts.

Already, the petition has garnered 140,000 signatures, plus the endorsement of celebrities such as "Hunger Games" star Josh Hutcherson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson from television's "Modern Family" and Max Adler from "Glee."

"I had no idea this would take off like it has," said Tyrell, who lives with her partner of five years. Ohio does not recognize gay marriage.

"It's humbling and very exciting that so many people are finally agreeing with us."

Saturday, Tyrrell and her family appeared at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, where they were honored for taking a stand. Today, she is in New York City, making the media rounds with Cruz.

"We want to get the word out," said Tyrrell, a former hardware store sales person who was laid off. Her partner, Alicia, is a registered nurse.

Tyrrell said the Boy Scouts of America had not "officially" notified her. "I have heard nothing from them," she said.

The Boy Scouts of America emailed ABCNews.com a prepared statement that said its focus is on "delivering a program of character development and leadership training."

"Scouting, and the majority of parents it serves, does not believe it is the right forum for children to become aware of the issue of sexual orientation, or engage in discussions about being gay," it said. "Rather, such complex matters should be discussed with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting."

The Boy Scouts acknowledged their policy was controversial, but added, "To disagree does not mean to disrespect and we respect everyone's right to have and express a different opinion. Scouting will continue to teach our members to treat everyone with courtesy and respect."

The organization also said that in Tyrrell's case the policy had not been followed by local leaders, but when another pack leader complained, it was enforced.

In 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Boy Scouts of America and ruled 5-4 that the organization is exempt from state laws that bar anti-gay discrimination.

The court overturned a ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court to require a troop to readmit a longtime gay scoutmaster who had been dismissed.

The Girl Scouts of America has had a diversity policy and non-discrimination clause since 1980.

Cub Scouts Asked Lesbian to Resign

Tyrrell decided to lead Cruz's first-grade Cub Scout troop last fall. "It was a very community-oriented group of kids," she said. "They made me treasurer to get the books in order ... I found some discrepancies -- things that didn't add up."

She said she met with local representatives over the financial matters, but afterwards, the scout master called her and said, "We have to ask you to resign."

"Everyone locally knew I was gay," said Tyrell. "I was devastated. I cried for two days. Those kids were my family. All my parents were devastated."

Patty Morgan, 35, whose 7-year-old son Jordan was in Troop 109 told ABCNews.com, "I was not even aware they had a gay policy. It was very emotional for me."

Morgan also helped Tyrrell with troop activities: field trips and community service work at a soup kitchen and with the Salvation Army.

"I was very upset -- she was my friend and for me, this is personal," said Morgan, who with other troop parents had participated in local protests. "I hope that it ends up changing the policy for the Boy Scouts. That's what we're all hoping for."

Tyrrell said she told her troop parents that she wasn't "abandoning" their children. "It was not my choice," she said. "I didn't want them to think I left them. I had made them a promise to follow these kids to Eagle Scout. Now I can't."

Change.org has been instrumental in other campaigns, most notably the Trayvon Martin case, which also caught the nation's attention and resulted in the arrest of George Zimmerman for the fatal shooting of the 14-year-old.

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