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Nearly 300,000 signatures gathered to defend ousted gay Boy Scout leader

Activists gathered more than 285,000 signatures to petition for the reinstatement of a gay Ohio Boy Scout leader. Jennifer Tyrell, a den leader for her 7-year-old son's Boy Scout troop for about a year, was asked to step down from her volunteer position two months ago after leadership realized she was gay. Boy Scouts of America policy does not allow gay members.

When Tyrell spoke with Thomas Roberts on MSNBC a month ago she called her ouster “unfair,” and said, “I was devastated.”

The petition, initially started by Tyrell, also calls for the Boy Scouts to eliminate its anti-gay policy. It was presented to Boy Scout leadership at their annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Wednesday by supporters including LGBT activist and Iowa student Zach Wahls.

Wahls, a former Eagle Scout, is also author of My Two Moms, and has been outspoken about his positive upbringing by a lesbian couple. He achieved fame after a YouTube video of him delivering an impassioned plea to the Iowa legislature over gay marriage went viral.

Wahls recently spoke with Thomas Roberts on MSNBC about his role in supporting Tyrell.

“Given their own standards – treat others how you want to be treated, be respectful – this is not in line with their own principles,” Wahls said on Wednesday of the Boy Scouts.

The Scouts have released a statement reiterating its policy to ban openly gay members.

"Our supporters do not see Scouting as the right environment to reconcile divergent viewpoints on societal issues and realize a good partnership does not require full agreement on every issue," the organization’s PR representative told Reuters.