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Local council challenges Boy Scouts’ national ban on gay members

Urges Boy Scouts to award Eagle Scout rank to gay teen
Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A California teen who spent years in the Boy Scouts completing the requirements to become an Eagle Scout, only to be denied the rank because he’s gay, has received new support by the local council’s review board to receive Scouting’s highest honor, the rank of Eagle Scout.

In what is believed to be the first challenge to the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy that prohibits gay scouts and gay and lesbian scout leaders, a California chapter of the Boy Scouts of America is directly challenging the ban by formally recommending that Ryan Andresen, an openly gay former Scout, be awarded the top rank of Eagle.

Ryan Andresen

Bonnie Hazarabedian, who chaired the Boy Scout district review board, told Reuters that the BSA anti-gay policy is “something out of the Dark Ages,” but added that Ryan’s sexual orientation was not relevant to whether he should get the award.

Ryan, 18, and his parents drew national attention in October after his Scoutmaster refused to sign his Eagle scout application because of his sexual orientation.

An honors student with impressive SAT scores, and who’s aspiring to attend the University of San Francisco, Ryan 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, which was inspired by the years of hazing he endured in middle school in Moraga, Calif., and later at Boy Scout summer camp, where his nicknames were “Tinkerbell” and “faggot.”

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

More than 462,000 people subsequently signed a petition at Change.org calling on the Scoutmaster to approve the award, while the Andresens escalated Ryan’s application up the Boy Scout hierarchy in the San Francisco Bay area, where it landed before Hazarabedian’s review board.

Ryan was awarded a $20,000 scholarship from the online photo album company Shutterfly during an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show in October, after news broke of his rejected Eagle Scout application.

But neither Hazarabedian nor the Andresens expect Ryan’s Eagle award will come so easily.

The Boys Scouts have not yet responded to the review board’s recommendation.

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6 more reader comments:

  1. What an amazing young man in the face of such obvious bigotry! Stand tall. You have no reason to let your shoulders fall because of what others shortcomings are. You have truly learned what it means to be an Eagle Scout. Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts of America don’t.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:07pm
  2. Well said Steve. I hope his story is the final straw that breaks the camels back of the BSA.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 1:11pm
  3. God bless you .

    Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 4:12pm
  4. Well done !! Kudos to that teen AND the clear thinking socially mature review board. Let’s keep it going !

    Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:14pm
  5. Well done !! Kudos to that teen AND the clear thinking socially mature review board. Let’s keep it going !

    Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:14pm
  6. Another institution trying to force their beliefs on us. His sexuality was not a factor while he worked for years to become an Eagle ….why should it matter now.

    Posted on Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 9:32pm