Ryan Andresen, 18, recently completed the requirements for earning his Eagle Scout award. His final project was building a “tolerance wall” for victims of bullying, as he was.
But his Scoutmaster in Moraga, Calif., refused to sign off on the award, which is the Boy Scouts’ highest ranking. The reason: He’s gay.
The Boy Scouts of America have a longstanding policy of denying membership to gay leaders and Scouts. They reaffirmed the controversial ban earlier this year after a two-year confidential review.
When Andresen’s parents complained about their son’s rejection, Boy Scouts of America officials announced that he was “no longer eligible for membership in Scouting” due to his sexual orientation and refusal to agree to Scouting’s principle of “Duty to God.”
Karen Andresen started an online petition demanding that the Scouts allow her son to become an Eagle Scout. As of yesterday, more than 70,000 people had signed it. The battle is gaining national attention via broadcast news and the Internet.
“It hurts me so much to watch Ryan suffer for being who he is, because to me, he's perfect," Karen Andresen writes in the petition. "Ryan has worked for nearly 12 years to become an Eagle Scout, and nothing would make him more proud than earning that well-deserved distinction. I hope that if enough people come together, we can convince my son's troop leaders to help him feel proud of who he is and all he's accomplished.”