My name is Jennifer Tyrrell, and in April 2012, I was removed as the den leader of my seven-year-old son’s Cub Scout pack, all because I’m gay. Despite the fact that I was a good den leader and parents in the community supported me and urged me to take on the role, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) now say that I do not “meet the high standards of membership” that the BSA seeks, and will no longer allow me to participate in scouting.
This news was heartbreaking -- both for me, but also for my son, who wonders why the BSA won’t let his mother participate in scouting. But as heartbreaking as this news was, there’s a ray of hope -- hundreds of thousands of people took action and put pressure on the Boy Scouts of America to end their long-held policy that bars gay scout leaders and gay troops. And now, after delivering hundreds of thousands of signatures to the Boy Scouts of America’s National Annual Meeting, the Boy Scouts have publicly revealed -- for the first time in history -- that a resolution is before their national board that would allow local chartering organizations to welcome gay troops and gay scout leaders.
This is historic. With thousands of current scouts, former scouts, and scout leaders around the country urging the Boy Scouts of America to end their policy prohibiting gay troops and leaders, the time for the Boy Scouts’ board to act is now. And who better to act than a business leader who is not only on the board of the Boy Scouts, but who also leads a company with a near perfect record on gay rights: Randall Stephenson of AT&T.
AT&T has a 100% ranking on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index, and has been honored as a top place to work for LGBT employees. In addition, AT&T has active LGBT employee groups. If Randall Stephenson has been so successful at leading a company committed to LGBT rights, he can use his power as a board member of the Boy Scouts of America to help change a discriminatory policy that prevents families like mine from being involved in scouts.
The Boy Scouts offer so much to young people like my son. But by continuing to prevent gay Americans from participating as leaders or troops, the Boy Scouts are sending a damaging message to kids that discrimination is acceptable, and that families like mine aren’t welcome at their table. Randall Stephenson has the unique position of being able to challenge this policy from within, and join the hundreds of thousands of supporters who’ve urged the Boy Scouts to end their ban on gay troops and leaders.
Please urge corporate leaders to take their leadership on diversity issues within the workplace, and extend it to their role as board members of the Boy Scouts of America.