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Boy Scouts dismisses lesbian den leader

April 26, 2012 at 10:02 AM   |   Comments

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COLUMBUS, Ohio, April 26 (UPI) -- An Ohio woman dismissed as a Cub Scouts pack leader for being a lesbian says she is working to get the scouting organization to reverse its policy on gays.

Jennifer Tyrell, a 32-year-old Bridgeport mother of four, withdrew her 7-year-old son from the Boy Scouts of America when she was recently dismissed after serving as leader of his Cub pack for several months.

"He's no longer a Boy Scout," she told CNN. "And we're sad about that but we can't support an organization that doesn't support our family."

Tyrell is working with Change.org, a liberal political group, on a campaign to raise awareness about the Boy Scouts' policy toward gays and lesbians. She said she gathered 140,000 signatures and said she hopes to push the organization to accept gay leaders and scouts.

"This isn't about my sexuality. This isn't about anybody's sexuality," Tyrell said. "It's about teaching children to be better adults and we aren't doing that by teaching them to hate or discriminate."

The Boy Scouts explained its position in an e-mail to ABC News.

"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," the group said. "Rather, such complex matters should be discussed with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting."

The organization said it respects people's right to a different opinion.

"Scouting will continue to teach our members to treat everyone with courtesy and respect," the statement said.

A New Jersey law requiring the Boy Scouts to readmit an openly gay Scout master was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 because it infringed on the group's First Amendment right of expressive association. The court found the Boy Scouts have a constitutional right to refuse membership to homosexuals.

In the decision, Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote, "Forcing a group to accept certain members may impair the ability of the group to express those views and only those views, it intends to express."

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