On April 25 Den Mother Jennifer Tyrrell of the Boy Scouts of America’s Ohio Cub Scouts Troop 109 was thrown out of the organization for being a lesbian.
Although Tyrrell was open about her orientation and even presented her orientation to the other parents as well as the local club master before assuming the role of Den Mother, her orientation is still the reason she was asked to leave. In fact, it was only one other person, a fellow troop leader, who made the complaint that ultimately lead to her dismissal. But because The Boy Scouts of America is a private organization, it maintains the right to exclude gays and atheists from its organization.
What might be the most touching and inspiring aspect of this story is that the parents of the scouts she led have rallied behind her cause, even organizing and participating in a protest outside of the church where the troop meetings are held. While it’s still uncertain who made the complaint, children of the pack as well as their parents are very upset by the decision.
In an attempt to “protect” kids from having to think about the issues of sexual orientation, now the children of Ohio’s Cub Scouts Troop 109 have to think about much deeper issues such as bigotry, prejudice and injustice.
Parents like Crystal Sabinsky and Rob Dunn now have to answer some tough questions their children are pointing to them.
“The only people who were hurt were the kids,” said Dunn. “They’re asking questions they shouldn’t have to ask at this point.”
Many of the boy scouts had no idea that Tyrrell is a lesbian, or even what that means at this point.
“My son asked me last night, ‘Why did Jen leave? Why is she in trouble?’ He doesn’t understand,” said Sabinsky.
This raises a much larger issue in the context of our culture, and that’s the labeling of gays and queers as potential predators and teachers of immorality. Parents, who are required to attend the troop meetings, report that they never heard Tyrrell speak of her orientation or give any lessons on the issue. Yet it was this premise that the Boy Scouts upheld their archaic policy banning gays from participating in the organization.
While the dismissal of gay men from the position of Troop Leader is much more common, and seemingly more tolerated, the fact that Tyrrell is a woman and was honest about her inclination seems to prove her trustworthiness.
Even though the LGBTQ community has made great strides in acquiring equal rights for this segment of society, this event is evidence that we still have a long way to go, especially for those of us who choose to work with children.
It seems that, as adults working side-by-side, the issue of homosexuality is far more tolerated. But when it comes to working with children, many queers go on living in silence for fear of retaliation similar to what Tyrrell experienced. Sadly, this is the reason many teachers, coaches, instructors and other childcare professionals live in fear of losing their jobs and their livelihood. And as Tyrrell’s case shows, although the majority of the population might be OK with your lifestyle choice, all it takes is one person to rock the boat and ruin things for everyone.
The saddest part about this whole situation is that working with children is a calling. You can’t force yourself to do it, to like it or to be good at it. If you’ve found a great teacher for your child, would you want them to be dismissed based upon something as private and personal as their sexual orientation? Any way you slice it, children are the ones who suffer from the prejudiced, biased decisions made by the adults in their lives.
The flawed logic that homosexuality is a glitch in our personality caused by childhood molestation still seems to ring true to those who govern institutions that focus on children. The equally faulty logic that gays are prone to inappropriate relationships with children is asinine, archaic and isn’t based upon any empirical evidence.
Perhaps the idea is that if no child is molested by a person of the same gender, then homosexuality will cease to exist. While it’s a nice theory, it simply won’t work. It won’t work because homosexuality isn’t a choice, and it isn’t triggered by childhood trauma. Unfortunately, there are homosexuals who have been molested by people of their same gender, but not every queer has had that experience. The generalization that they have is what leads people in positions of authority to make the wrong decision about how to deal with this. Although these administrative professionals might have the right intentions in mind, their actions are causing far more damage to the innocence of childhood than they might realize.