LOS ANGELES — A Moraga, Calif., teen who was kicked out of the Boy Scouts and denied his Eagle award because he is gay, was awarded a $20,000 scholarship from the online photo album company Shutterfly during an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show on Thursday.
“I hope people understand that discrimination is not OK,” said Andresen, in his first in-depth media appearance
“The Boy Scouts is an organization that is very unique, it has a lot of opportunities that nothing else will ever grant you in your whole entire life. I am so blessed that I got to go through it and I don’t think it is fair that not everyone gets the opportunity to go through it.”
“I cannot give you the pin,” DeGeneres said. “But what I can do, I know you want to go to college, … so Shutterfly is giving you a check for $20,000.”
Andresen had recently completed the final requirements to earn his Eagle Award, including his final project of building a “tolerance wall” at his former middle school to show victims of bullying that they are not alone.
“I went through a lot of bullying in my life,” he said.
After his troop denied him the Eagle Scout award, his mother started a petition October 2 on Change.org demanding that Boy Scout officials reconsider their decision. Within two days of the petition and ensuing publicity, Andresen said local Scouting officials notified him that he was losing his membership in the Scouts altogether.
The Boy Scouts of America have a longstanding policy denying membership to gay leaders and Scouts, which they reaffirmed earlier this year after a two-year confidential review of the controversial ban.
The organization said last week in a statement that because of Andresen’s sexual orientation and that he did not agree to Scouting’s principle of “Duty to God,” “he is no longer eligible for membership in Scouting.”