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Boy Scout told he won’t receive his Eagle medal because he is gay

Thursday, October 4, 2012

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. — A 17-year-old high school senior from this hillside area just east of Oakland, Calif., has been told by the Boy Scouts that he is not eligible to be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout because he is gay.

Ryan Andresen, an honors student with impressive SAT scores, and who’s aspiring to attend the University of San Francisco, joined the Boy Scouts when he was 6 years old. He recently completed the final requirements to earn his Eagle Award, including his final project of building a “tolerance wall” for victims of bullying, much like himself.

Ryan Andresen with his Eagle Project, the “Tolerance Wall.”
Photo courtesy of the Andresen family.

According to his mother Karen Andresen, because Ryan recently came out to his friends and family as gay, leaders from the Boy Scout Bay Area Region’s Troop 212 say they won’t approve his Eagle Award honoring him with the Boy Scouts’ highest rank because of his sexual orientation.

“I want everyone to know that [the Eagle award] should be based on accomplishment, not your sexual orientation. Ryan entered Scouts when he was six years old and in no way knew what he was,” Andresen, 49, told NBC News.

“I think right now the Scoutmaster is sending Ryan the message that he’s not a valued human being and I want Ryan to know that he is valued … and that people care about him.”

Not to be deterred, this mom-turned-activist has launched a Change.org petition to get her son his Eagle Award.

A Boy Scout earns his Eagle medal by earning many badges, completing all lower scout rank requirements, and carrying out an approved final project. Andresen says that it was a 12-year process for her son, and for his final project, a “Tolerance Wall” for his school to show victims of bullying [like Ryan himself] that they are not alone.

“Ryan worked countless hours with elementary students to amass a wall of 288 unique tiles, all illustrating acts of kindness,” Andresen said.

Late Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement saying 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.”

“Andresen recently “notified his unit leadership and Eagle Scout Counselor that he does not agree to Scouting’s principle of ‘Duty to God’ and does not meet Scouting’s membership standard on sexual orientation,” Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, told NBC News in a statement.

“While the BSA did not proactively ask for this information, based on his statements and after discussion with his family he is being informed that he is no longer eligible for membership in Scouting.”

In an e-mail Thursday to LGBTQ Nation, Eagle Scout and LGBTQ equality rights activist Zach Wahls, who acknowledged that his organization Scouts For Equality has been contacted by the Andresen family, said that the reaction to Karen Andresen’s Change.org petition has been extremely positive.

Ryan’s father, Eric Andresen, a 52-year-old owner of a property management company, is also working on an appeal of the BSA decision.

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32 more reader comments:

  1. Sad. :(

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:39pm
  2. This is discusting… Can’t they be sued? On the basis of discrimination? It’s time … In this day and age… come on now.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:40pm
  3. hmm they shouldve told him that earlier, they wanted to work him up only to let him down, how pathetic and low cutting

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:40pm
  4. that saddens and sickens me

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:41pm
  5. Sign the petition!

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:42pm
  6. That is so wrong, if he earned it he should get his medal.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:43pm
  7. Sad

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:45pm
  8. Why are we surprised by this? We all know the BSA is a privately run and funded organization. They can do what they want because of it, and they’ve always held a discriminatory stance against the gays. I say let them have it…people who don’t want to support their homophobia don’t have to…eventually, no one will and the BSA will have 2 choices: close down or open up.
    Personally, I’ve never liked or supported the BSA, or GSA, never will, either.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:46pm
  9. its ok. I dont have the right to exist in gay community cause im over 30 and got no abs. will not cry for his medal. sorry.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:46pm
  10. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong on so many levels. Guess it’s ok for their Scoutmasters to molest boys (then BSA cover it up) then to award a Scout his Eagle Scout which he earned with good works!!! Just because he’s gay??? NO WAY!!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:46pm
  11. Just plain awful!!!

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:47pm
  12. That sure is awfully low of them !

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:48pm
  13. Its absolutely ridiculous thaf being straight is a requirement to be recognized as boy scout. People need to wake up and realize others should be free to live as they please as long as it isnt harming anyone else.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:50pm
  14. Never allowing my son into such a hateful organization!

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:50pm
  15. What’s wrong? he should get. .

    so pathetic :(

    Y in scout . . . what’s wrong?

    here all hav equal right.

    all r equal.

    isn’t he human?

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:53pm
  16. This sickens me. So sad. So a ignorant group. So wrong on many levels. Gay should not play a part in anything. People just don’t understand. They are afraid they might catch it. We need to teach acceptance, tolerance and to educate. I will never support this organization, any fundraisers again.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:53pm
  17. Expected and not surprising

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:55pm
  18. This is terrible…he should get the award he earned

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 7:56pm
  19. That’s BS the young man should get his Eagle medal and they need to give it to him

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:03pm
  20. The rest of us stayed in the closet until after we became eagle scouts. This will be a good learning experience for him.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:03pm
  21. But Andrew, he shouldnt have to. Cause its bullshit.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:07pm
  22. This is pure DISCRIMINATION, he should SUE and make this main stream Headlines.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:21pm
  23. That is so sad. I can’t believe these dumb, uneducated people. Do they not realize what they are doing to these LGBTQ kids? I wish they could sue. I think this kids is a great role model, much more so than the scout leaders. Don’t they teach love and tolerance in scouting? And to treat others as you would want to be treated? …. What a wonderful Eagle Scout project! Congrats on this remarkable wall. No matter what, he did a great thing for others.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:34pm
  24. Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:35pm
  25. We all need to scream Bullshit on this.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:37pm
  26. His final project is a tolerance wall to fight bullying……the BSA needs to learn from this young man. BSA needs to stop bullying. Make this young man a leader in BSA, he can teach young kids tolerance and love not hate.

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:40pm
  27. If he earned it…he gets it!

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 8:44pm
  28. when will they learn soon hope say a prayer can not hurt to

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 10:13pm
  29. :-(

    Posted on Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 10:30pm
  30. Sign the petition on Change.org

    Posted on Friday, October 5, 2012 at 4:21am
  31. messed up but recall the Supreme Court ruled it was ok for BSA to ban gay/lesbian scout leaders and to include religious requirements because they are a “private organization” … if this is so then really they should not be allowed to receive any federal funds even through third parties like United Way or to meet in public facilities like at public schools

    Posted on Friday, October 5, 2012 at 7:45am
  32. Disgusting!

    Posted on Friday, October 5, 2012 at 2:39pm