Ryan Andresen, 17, spent 10 years as a Boy Scout fulfilling every requirement necessary to attain Eagle Scout status, the most prestigious award available within the organization. But he was denied the honor after he came out as gay, denied because his sexuality does “not live up to” the principle of “duty to God” held within the Boy Scouts of America.
Troop 212 in Moraga made the decision that Andresen was “no longer eligible for membership in Scouting” after they learned the was gay, after the 17 year old had completed every task needed to become an Eagle. His outing came as he completed on of his tasks, building a tolerance wall in his high-school to prevent against bullying.
His mother, Karen, spoke to NBC News saying,
Ryan entered Scouts when he was six years old and in no way knew what he was.
Speaking to ABC News, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, Deron Smith said,
This scout proactively 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. Agreeing to do one’s ‘Duty to God’ is a part of the scout Oath and Law and a requirement of achieving the Eagle Scout rank.
A Scout since he was six years old, Andresen is an honor student who hopes to attend the University of San Francisco. “He just liked the outdoors and hiking”, said his mother.
This week, the leader of Andresen’s troop, Rainer Del Valle, refused to sign off on Ryan’s final project, despite originally stating his intention to do so. Andresen had originally left the Scouts after bullying, but was encouraged to rejoin by Del Valle, and to use his experience in building his tolerance wall.
He was in love with my project,” said Ryan, even after he had told the troop about his sexual orientation.
He was he was leading me on the whole time,” said Ryan, who said he thought his scoutmaster had succumbed to pressure from older leaders in the troop.
He still hasn’t had the courage to tell me himself. I am sad and confused over the whole thing,” he said. “He told my Dad to tell me. I haven’t heard from him since.
The Boy Scouts of America have been dogged with sex scandals for the past few years, having openly banned homosexuals from becoming leaders. As it is a private organization it’s ban on men regarding sexuality is not subject to civil right law. The Scouts are among the largest youth organizations in America with around 2.7 million members, and one million adult volunteers.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, an executive on the board of the Scouts, takes over as president of the group in 2014, he has vowed to end the ban on homosexuals in the movement.
Andresen has maintained that the problem is within the national leadership of the party.
An online petition against the decision has already gained 182,000 signatures including an Eagle Scout recipient who offered to send his award to Andresen.