Scout Did Everything Right, But The Boy Scouts By-Laws are Wrong
Ryan Andresen, 17, has been in scouting since he was six years old. He loves scouting and the outdoors, spoke highly on Ellen Degeneres’s show on October 11th of his troop’s trip to Alaska for a week. Says this Moraga, California native, “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.”
Yet, despite his enthusiasm for scouting, and the twenty-one merit badges he has earned, and completion of his final project to earn his Eagle award (the highest honor in Boy Scouts): building a “tolerance wall” with 288 titles, at his former middle school where he was teased, Ryan was refused this award because of his sexual orientation. Andresen’s scoutmaster refused to sign off the award saying that Ryan did not fulfill his “duty to God’ as stated in the membership rules. Andresen told Yahoo News that “it was by far the biggest goal of my life. It’s totally devastating.”
Boy Scout Policy
Unlike the Girl Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts has a national policy (reaffirmed last July) of kicking out openly gay scouts and troop leaders despite public pressure to change its laws. “I hope people understand that discrimination is not o.k.,” says Andresen. The Human Rights Campaign has stated that it may consider penalizing companies in its annual equality rankings if companies continue to donate to the Boy Scouts.
Support for The Gay Shunned Boy Scout
As a sign of support, Eagle Scouts from all over the country have sent Andresen their Eagle medals. So far, 170 medals (50 from his own troop alone) have been sent his way. A Florida dentist named Andrew Zerbinopolous, D.D.S., who received his Eagle Scout Badge in 1996, gave Andresen his medal “hoping it will help ease the pain for Andresen.”
What Ryan’s Mother Did
On October 2nd, Karen Andresen started a petition on the on-line site Change.org. to have the Boy Scout officials reconsider their decision. To date, she has received 400, 000 signatures. By October 4th, Andresen said local Scouting officials notified him that he was losing his membership in the Scouts altogether.
Karen comments: “ It hurts me so much to watch Ryan suffer for being who he is, because to me, he’s perfect. 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.”
Ellen DeGeneres is Mighty Generous
On October 11th, “National Coming Out Day, “ Ryan appeared on the GLBT-friendly ‘Ellen’ Show. See file://localhost/Advocate.com:WATCH/ Ellen Gives Shunned Gay Boy Scout a Big Scholarship:10:11:12. Said Ellen during the interview, ” I cannot give you the pin (Eagle Award), but what I can do, I know you want to go to college…so Shutterfly ( the on-line photo album company) is giving you a check for $20,000. Not an Eagle Award, but another sign of solidarity for Ryan.