A Boy Scouts of America board member and third-generation Eagle Scout has resigned in support of an Ohio scouts leader ousted because of her sexual orientation.
West Virginia lawyer David J. Sims resigned on Friday from the Ohio River Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Wheeling, W. Va., in support of Jennifer Tyrrell, a 32-year-old Ohio mom whose membership was revoked in April 10 because she is a lesbian.
“I had not been aware of what was going on and when I did, I felt that it was not a decision that was fair and not one that I necessarily agreed with,” Sims told msnbc.com on Monday. “I think the policy is wrong.”
Confirming the resignation, the Boy Scouts of America on Monday maintained it has the right to ban gays and atheists from its service organization, a stance upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. A scouts official also defended the organization's actions against Tyrrell.
“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,” Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said in an email to msnbc.com. “Rather, such complex matters should be discussed with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting.”
“We fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one position or policy. To disagree does not mean to disrespect and we respect everyone's right to have and express a different opinion. Scouting will continue to teach our members to treat everyone with courtesy and respect,” Smith said in the email.
Sims said he could not in good faith carry on his duties with the scouts, a post he has held for four months, and had to take a stand.
A copy of his resignation letter was also emailed to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation on Monday.
“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I write to you today to inform you that I am resigning as a member of the Board of Directors of the Ohio River Valley Council of the Boy Scouts of America,” Sims wrote in his letter, according to the gay-rights advocacy group.
Sims continued: “My grandfather was an Eagle scout, my father was an Eagle scout and I am an Eagle Scout. Other than his family and his Christian faith, the most important thing in my father’s life was the Boy Scouts. He lived and breathed scouting. That is what makes this decision so exceedingly difficult and emotional. However, I know that my father would support my decision.”
Tyrrell said the support has been overwhelming, adding that her petition for the scouts to change policy has gained more than 250,000 signatures.
“I’ve been touched by the long list of supporters who, like me, believe that discrimination should not be a part of the Boy Scouts of America’s policies,” she said.
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