Tyrrell: How do you tell a 7-year-old we can’t be part of the Scouts?

Jennifer Tyrrell

“How do you tell a seven-year-old we can’t be in the Scouts?” Jennifer Tyrrell asked.

The ousted Cub Scout mom talked about her experiences with the Scouts from her Downtown Dallas hotel room on Tuesday evening. She is in Dallas to present a Change.org petition with 314,000 signatures to the Boy Scouts on Wednesday.

The Boy Scouts confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that someone will meet with her on Wednesday. She is planning a 10 a.m. press conference outside the Irving headquarters of the Scouts before presenting the petition and meeting with the Boy Scouts representative.

While Tyrrell knows the Scouts won’t change their policy anytime soon, she’s convinced the policy will change. But her message is for other parents involved in Scouting.

“Imagine being told you can’t be involved in part of your child’s life,” she said.

Two of her four children traveled to Dallas with her. After being swarmed by reporters at Love Field, she joked that they deserve their Media Badge.

And to take up their time since they were ousted from the Scouts, Tyrrell assures that they’ve been busy playing softball, fishing and playing with celebrities.

—  David Taffet

A day before ousted lesbian mom visits Dallas, Boy Scouts reaffirm gay ban

Jennifer Tyrrell

The Boy Scouts announced Tuesday it will stick with its ban on gay Scouts and leaders, claiming that the announcement follows a two-year study.

The announcement, coincidentally, takes place days after Dallas Voice’s cover story about the discriminatory policy and a day after ousted Scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell announced a visit to the group’s headquarters in Irving on Wednesday.

According to the Associated Press, “An 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, ‘came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.’”

In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin called the Boy Scouts’ decision to reaffirm the policy “a missed opportunity of colossal proportions.”

“With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued,” Griffin said. ‘These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.”

NGLTF Deputy executive Director Darlene Nipper said she was deeply disappointed and that discrimination is never the right policy.

“Clinging to a policy of exclusion and intolerance is hardly a good lesson for our young people,” Nipper said. “Once again, officials of the Boy Scouts of America have turned their backs on a chance to demonstrate fairness, exercise sound judgment, and serve as a role model for valuing others, free of bias and prejudice.”

Tyrrell is coming to Dallas with a representative from Change.org and plans to deliver a petition with 300,000 signatures that calls for an end to the ban on gays in the Scouts. Tyrrell and Change.org’s Mark Anthony Dingbaum will be at Boy Scouts headquarters on Walnut Hill Lane in Irving on Wednesday at 10 a.m. to deliver the petition.

They also hope to meet with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to present a petition urging him to be proactive in making a change within the Boy Scouts. Stephenson is in line to become president of the Boy Scouts in 2014.

The AP story claims that Stephenson “will likely face continued pressure from gay-rights groups to try to end the exclusion policy.” But within AT&T, Stephenson’s policies have been for inclusion and equality. Last year, he instituted a review of all policies to make sure LGBT employees in the various segments of the company that have come together through merger have benefits equal to straight employees.

The BSA has shown how serious it is about adhering to its policy.

On Sunday, Eagle Scout Eric Jones, 19, was kicked out of the Scouts after he came out to the director of the summer camp in Missouri. He was immediately removed from the camp.

Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts, didn’t return calls seeking comment Tuesday morning.

The Boys Scouts full statement reaffirming the group’s ban on gays is after the jump.

—  David Taffet

Ousted Boy Scout mom Jennifer Tyrrell to deliver petition to Irving headquarters Wednesday

Jennifer Tyrrell and her son Cruz

Following our cover story last Friday about the Boy Scouts, ousted Cub Scout den leader Jennifer Tyrrell, GLAAD and Change.org have decided it’s time to deliver a petition with 300,000 signatures to Boy Scouts headquarters in Irving.

Tyrrell will be in Irving on Wednesday to deliver the petition asking for her reinstatement. She is expected to be at Boy Scout headquarters at 10 a.m., according to a press release from Change.org.

Tyrrell said that she was encouraged by other parents to become troop leader with “tolerance, acceptance and support.” Only after she became treasurer of the pack and found accounting inconsistencies was she removed because of her sexual orientation. GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro said Tyrrell’s story has caught the media’s attention and he called her “America’s favorite mom.”

After the jump, watch video of Tyrrell speaking at the GLAAD Media Awards and read the full text of the Change.org petition containing Tyrrell’s story. Sign the petition by going here.

—  David Taffet

Ex-employee who accused San Antonio credit union of anti-gay discrimination speaks out

A former employee who’s alleging San Antonio Federal Credit Union prevented him from using the unisex employee restrooms says his manager was behind the discrimination.

Keith Crabtree started the petition on Change.org on Tuesday titled “Stop the discriminatory treatment of gay employees at San Antonio Federal Credit Union.” The petition outlines that gay employees cannot talk about their families or use the restrooms.

Although Crabtree didn’t respond to an interview request from Instant Tea, he told QSanAntonio that he was an employee since October 2011 and the discrimination began around the new year when he, the only male employee at the branch, was asked to use the restrooms in the lobby.

He filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which is investigating it as sex discrimination, because he was the only male working at the location. His manager then allegedly began writing him up for things that never happened and told him to not speak about anything gay at work. When he complained to Human Resources in early March, he was later terminated, he alleges.

SACU spokeswoman Paige Ramsey-Palmer previously told Instant Tea that no complaints had been filed in regards to the restroom.

Crabtree has been with his partner for more than a decade and felt comfortable talking about his life with co-workers. His partner, Star Natal, commented on Instant Tea’s first story about the petition.

Natal wrote: “As Keith’s spouse of eleven years, I have witnessed first-hand my husbands strong work ethic. He stepped down from an executive position in the senior living field (where he fostered many future stars of the local industry) so that he could be in an environment with less pressure and work stress. His time at SACU proved anything but easy. He was targetted [SIC] and singled out daily. He regularly suffered retaliation for reporting inappropriate behavior by the branch manager. In my opinion, I believe that she, a 40 year old spinster, was very uneasy and disdainful around Keith because she couldn’t stand the fact that a happily partnered, highly skilled and polished professional would voluntarily go to work somewhere where she struggled for 15 years to move one or two steps up the corporate ladder. This woman was even witnessed publicly stating that she would keep any males from being hired as tellers at her branch because ‘men are drama’. Please sign our petition and contact SACU to tell them that anti-male, anti-gay policies will not be tolerated in todays society.”

Read part of Crabtree’s interview with QSanAntonio after the jump:

—  Dallasvoice

Ex-employee of San Antonio Federal Credit Union starts petition, alleges gays can’t use restrooms

A former employee of San Antonio Federal Credit Union started an online petition Tuesday that alleges the company prohibits its gay employees from using the unisex bathrooms. Instead, the petition states gay employees must use the restrooms in the lobby.

The petition on Change.org entitled “Stop the discriminatory treatment of gay employees at San Antonio Federal Credit Union,” also states that gay employees are not allowed to discuss their families, as their straight co-workers can.

SACU was started in 1935 and was federally charted in 1989, according to the website. About 700 employees work at 18 branches in San Antonio and one branch in Houston.

SACU spokeswoman Paige Ramsey-Palmer told Instant Tea on Wednesday that the company doesn’t discriminate based on sexual orientation.

“We totally disagree and we respectfully disagree with the allegations,” she said. “We are an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer and because of this we take these allegations very seriously.”

—  Dallasvoice

Dallas VA hospital puts nurse on administrative duty after lesbian Marine veteran’s complaint

Esther Garatie

Last month we told you about Esther Garatie, a lesbian Marine veteran who says she became the victim of anti-gay harassment by a nurse practitioner when she sought mental health treatment at the Dallas VA Medical Center.

Today Change.org is reporting — and Dallas Voice has confirmed — that the nurse practitioner, Lincy Pandithurai, has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the VA Medical Center’s investigation into Garatie’s complaint.

“We started a fact-finding review when this allegation was first brought to our attention,” VA Medical Center spokeswoman Monica A. Smith said in an email. “To get a more in-depth look at the allegation, VA North Texas is now conducting an administrative investigation board review and expects to have that completed by the end of November. The nurse named in the allegation is currently placed on administrative duties while the investigation is ongoing.”

Smith explained that administrative duty means Pandithurai is assigned to a non-clinical area and is not seeing patients. Smith declined to specify the date when Pandithurai was placed on administrative duty.

The Change.org petition calling for the VA Medical Center to fire Pandithurai — which was launched by Garatie’s friend Jessica Gerson in the wake of the alleged incident — now has almost 13,000 signatures.

 

 

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Rangers may film ‘It Gets Better’ video

We just received an email from John Blake, executive vice president of communications for the Texas Rangers, responding to our inquiry Wednesday about the possibility of the team recording an “It Gets Better” video. FYI, the petition at Change.org calling for the Rangers to do so is now up to 2,394 signatures.

“The Rangers have received the correspondence and we are currently considering our options and the timing on any initiatives,” Blake said in his email.

We called Blake to try to get more out of him.

“It’s late in the season and everything, and it’s just a matter of timing and that kind of thing,” Blake said, adding that the team is in the midst of a pennant race. “We’ve received the correspondence [emailed petitions] and we’re just considering the best way to add the whole bullying initiative. We’ve discussed it internally and that’s where we’re at. I think it’s fair to say we’re seriously looking at our options.”

Asked whether the organization has set any kind of a timeframe for a decision, Blake said: “I think it will be sooner rather than later.”

In other words, keep those signatures coming!

—  John Wright

Rangers ‘It Gets Better’ petition gains steam

A while back we mentioned that online petitions had been launched at Change.org calling for both the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys to record “It Gets Better” videos.

At the time, the Rangers petition had only 124 signatures, but thanks in part to Equality Texas, which shared the link on Facebook earlier today, it’s now up to more than 1,700. (For those who are keeping track, that’s about 1,000 fewer than a recently-gone-viral petition at Change.org calling for Sesame Street‘s Bert and Ernie to wed. )

The Cowboys petition isn’t faring so well, languishing at only 57 signatures. Still, that’s better than the three people who’ve signed a petition — launched since our previous report — calling for the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks to record an “It Gets Better” video. (It would help if the folks starting these petitions would at least include the team logo.) We were unable to find any petition related to the Dallas Stars.

Anyhow, we’ve put a message in to John Blake, the Rangers’ executive vice president of communications, to find out whether the Rangers are aware of the petition or plan to record an “It Gets Better” video.

Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Tampa Bay Rays will become the ninth Major League Baseball team to film an “It Gets Better” video later this month. (And, by the way, those teams include the one with the very best record in the league, my Philadelphia Phillies.)

—  John Wright

Justice John Paul Stevens' retirement leaves big shoes for Obama to fill on gay rights

stevenssmile

As you’ve probably heard, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens has announced his retirement effective at the end of the court’s current term, which will be June or July. Stevens has been the leader of the court’s liberal wing and a big supporter of gay rights. Change.org has a post up about Stevens’ legacy on LGBT issues. Here’s a snippet:

At nearly 90-years-old, Stevens probably feels that it’s a good time to head for greener pastures. It’s totally understandable, but it’s also a bit tragic, given that right now there are at least three lawsuits brewing in the federal court system that may eventually make their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The first is the well-known Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case led by Ted Olson and David Boies challenging California’s law banning gay marriage, otherwise known as Prop 8.

The second is Gill et al. v. Office of Personnel Management et al., which is the Massachusetts court case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex relationships.

The third is the Login Cabin Republicans v. the United States of America, the federal lawsuit itching to overturn the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that discriminates against openly gay, lesbian and bisexual troops.

Three important cases. But if they end up before the U.S. Supreme Court someday, Justice John Paul Stevens won’t be weighing in. That’s tragic, given Stevens’ legacy of being a judicial voice for equality.

But to pivot, it’s also a major opportunity for President Barack Obama to nominate someone who will continue Stevens’ legacy on the court. Honorable. Admired by the right and left. But principled in his stand that law should lift us up, rather than take us down. Those were the characteristics that made Justice John Paul Stevens so revered.

And those are the same qualities that should guide Obama as he seeks someone to fill Stevens’ shoes.

UPDATE: Lambda Legal has also chimed in, focusing on how Stevens’ dissenting opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick was cited in Lawrence v. Texas.

—  John Wright

Texas is the prison rape capital of the U.S., and LGBT inmates are frequently the victims

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Five of the 10 prisons with the highest rates of sexual abuse in the nation are in Texas, including the top two, The Houston Chronicle reports today. But what the Chronicle’s story doesn’t even bother to mention is that LGBTQ inmates are a chief target of prison sexual abuse. According to the watchdog group Justice Detention International, a 2007 study found that “67 percent of inmates who identified as LGBTQ reported having been sexually assaulted by another inmate during their incarceration, a rate that was 15 times higher than for the inmate population overall. Of the hundreds of survivors who contact JDI every year, approximately 20 percent self- identifiy as gay, bisexual or transgender.”

A JDI report from 2008 sheds further light on the factors behind this problem in Texas:

“Within TDCJ facilities, vulnerable inmates report being set up for sexual violence by staff who treat reports of abuse—or threats thereof—with derision or callousness. In particular, LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) prisoners describe being treated dismissively by staff. According to numerous survivor letters, TDCJ officials tend to conflate homosexuality and trans- gender status with consent to rape, and as a result fail to take appropriate action when these inmates request assistance. A prisoner at the Telford Unit describes being told, when asking for protection, “You’re an admitted homosexual, you can’t be raped. We’re denying you. You learn how to defend yourself.”

The Department of Justice recently opened a 60-day public comment period on new national standards addressing sexual abuse in detention. To participate in the comment period by signing a petition that will be entered into the official record, go here.

—  John Wright