A scout in California has been denied the Eagle Scout badge by his scoutmaster because of his decision to come out as gay, despite, he claims, not being told he would not be awarded the badge.
Ryan Andresen, 17, who joined the scouts when he was six, had completed all requirements for the Eagle Scout Badge, which included building a “tolerance wall” for victims of bullying, such as himself.
Ryan Andresen’s mother, Karen Andresen, 49, a stay-at-home mother of three, had started a petition on Change.org to have her son awarded the badge.
She told NBC that there was no indication given that he would not be awarded the badge and that it was “a total shock”.
“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.
She added: “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.”
Ryan’s father, Eric Andresen, also stepped down as assistant scoutmaster from the same troop, number 212, Moraga, California, once the BSA confirmed that the badge would not be awarded.
Deron Smith, a spokesperson for the Boy Scouts of America, released a statement about the incident, saying Ryan had: “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.”
He continued: “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 order to be awarded the Eagle Scout badge, scouts progress through five ranks, earn 21 merit badges and serve as a scout leader for six months. Around 2 million scouts have achieved this rank.