US: Almost-Eagle Scout presents 400,000 signatures to BSA urging anti-gay policy change

Joseph McCormick October 19, 2012
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A teenager from Moraga, California, who was denied his Eagle Scout badge for coming out as gay, has presented a petition containing over 400,000 signatures, to the Boy Scouts of America, urging them to change their anti-gay policy.

Ryan Andresen, 18, attended the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council in person on Thursday, and met with a program director linked to his own former troop, reported Mercury News.

“It went about as expected,”he said of the meeting with Mr Alan Young, program director for the council, which polices Andresen’s troop.

“I did get a chance to ask what I wanted. I didn’t choose my sexuality, just like he didn’t choose his. So I asked what made me any less adequate than him. He didn’t answer. That says a lot.”

After appearing as a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show, the 18-year-old Boy Scout was awarded a $20,000 (£12,476) scholarship towards his college fees.

Mr Andresen joined the scouts when he was six, had completed all of the requirements for the Eagle Scout Badge, which included building a 288-tile “tolerance wall” for victims of bullying, such as himself, but was refused the badge, once the work was completed.

He told Ellen: ”I don’t think it’s fair that not everybody has the opportunity to go through it,” Ryan said about the potential honour of being an Eagle Scout, “I hope people understand discrimination is not OK.”

As well as receiving the support through the petition and the scholarship, 170 Eagle Scouts had pledged to send Ryan their Eagle Scout pins out of support, 50 of whom came from his own Scout troop.

Karen Andresen, 49, Ryan’s mother, had started a petition on to have her son awarded the badge, which contained over 410,000 signatures.

In response to the outrage Deron Smith, a spokesperson for the BSA, released a statement saying he 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.”

When he appeared on Ellen, Ryan said that, despite not being able to graduate as an Eagle Scout, he was grateful to have had the opportunities he experienced through being a Boy Scout for 12 years.

More: Americas, US

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