A lesbian mother who was ousted as a American boy scout leader because of her sexual orientation has slapped down 1980s action star Chuck Norris after he claimed gay people have no place in the scouting movement.
Jennifer Tyrrell, the former leader of her son’s boy scouts troop in Bridgeport, Ohio, accused Norris of being “out of touch” after he wrote a column that accused President Obama of encouraging attempts trying to impose a “pro-gay” stance on the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) by stealth.
In a column for AmmoLand.com, a site dedicated to shooting-sports news, Norris, a well known gun-rights activist, suggested that the recent announcement by James Turley, a BSA national board member, that he will work to overturn a policy that bans gay scouts and gay scout leaders was an attempt to win favour with the Obama administration.
But the BSA’s rules have faced growing criticism in recent months after Tyrrell was removed form her post in April.
Scout chiefs decided her sexual orientation “did not meet the high standards” set by the group. Her son, Cruz, was subsequently asked to leave the organisation as well.
Tyrrell challenged Norris to meet with her family and supporters to debate the issue.
She said: “Since I was ousted as a scout leader I have been flooded with support from local parents, scouts and hundreds of thousands of Americans. Chuck Norris is clearly out of touch and I’d like for him to sit down with my family and fellow scouting families who support us.
“My orientation wasn’t an issue in my son’s pack until the Boy Scouts made parents tell their children why their favourite den leader was no longer able to participate. With the US military, the Girls Scouts of the USA, the 4-H Club and the Boys & Girls Club among organizations that allow gay Americans the time is now to end the ban.”
Nearly 300,000 people have signed an online petition on left-leaning social campaigning website Change.org calling on the BSA to change its policy of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender scouts and leaders.
Tyrrell’s case has also attracted support from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and celebrity activists including Julianne Moore and Ellen DeGeneres.
In his article, Norris implies that the Obama administration has offered Turley political favours to carry out what the martial arts actor describes as the White House’s pro-gay agenda.
“Is Turley working on his own initiative, or has the White House prodded him with perks and favours? Is it a coincidence that Turley is in tight cahoots with the White House and that he is the only BSA national board member in 100 years to oppose its pro-traditional family stance?”
Turley’s statement opposing the policy, issued last month, stated: “I support the meaningful work of the Boy Scouts in preparing young people for adventure, leadership, learning and service, however the membership policy is not one I would personally endorse.”
Turley, the chief executive of accountancy firm Ernst & Young, added. “I intend to continue to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress.”