Mother of gay California Boy Scout fights for Eagle award

Fri Oct 5, 2012 11:42pm EDT

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(Reuters) - The mother of a gay California Boy Scout denied an Eagle award because of his sexual orientation is fighting to overturn the decision before he turns 18, the cut-off date for the organization's highest honor.

Ryan Andresen's mother, Karen, said the scoutmaster of his Troop 212 in Moraga, a San Francisco suburb, had refused to grant Eagle status to Ryan, who has been a scout since age 6, even though he met the requirements.

"His last words were I'd rather resign than sign," Andresen told Reuters.

A petition launched by Andresen on Change.org, an Internet social change platform, calls on his troop to reject the Boy Scouts of America's discriminatory policy against gays and give the California teenager his Eagle rank.

More than 200,000 people had signed the petition by late Friday.

Andresen said her son was staying with friends to avoid publicity, but plans to appear next week on the TV show "Ellen," which is hosted by comedian Ellen DeGeneres and often discusses gay-rights issues.

Andresen said Ryan had been victim of bullying in his troop, and chose as his final Eagle project to create at a local school what he called the "tolerance wall" - a collection of 288 tiles painted by elementary school students depicting acts of kindness.

Ryan surprised even his parents when he came out publicly as gay in July in a mass letter to the troop in which he stood up for another scout who was bullied, Andresen said.

According to its website, the troop is sponsored by a local Presbyterian church and counts more than 75 active members aged 11 to 18. The scoutmaster, listed on the website as Rainer Del Valle, did not respond to an email from Reuters for comment.

Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith indicated in a statement that Andresen's Boy Scouts membership had been revoked.

"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," the statement said.

The Boy Scouts of America has come under public pressure on the issue since May when an Ohio lesbian, who was suddenly ejected from her troop, started a petition on Change.org for her reinstatement and an overhaul of the anti-gay policy.

Subsequently, two Boy Scouts board members, the CEOs of telecoms company AT&T and accounting firm Ernst&Young, have spoken out against the discrimination. In September, computer chip-maker Intel, the Boy Scouts of America's biggest corporate donor, withdrew its support for the organization, which has about 2.7 million members.

(The story is re-filed to add dropped word in lede)

(Reporting by Barbara Liston; Editing by Tom Brown and Christopher Wilson)

FILED UNDER:
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Comments (9)
jaroca wrote:
Amazing to think that this is the 21st Century and people are frightened by another’s sexual orientation and continue to bully others into conforming. Some example of tolerance for today’s youth!

Ryan, sorry to say this young man, just write this off and put it behind you. Keep the memories of the good, earlier, innocent times and walk away with your head held high.

To the hierarchy of the scoutng organization and the troop leader of Ryan’s unit……..SHAME.

Even though this is a private organization they should lose any and all tax exempt status based upon openly descrimanatory practices.

If they meet on school properties they should immediately be prevented from doing so.

Narrow minded biggots have no business playing a public leadership role for today’s youth and any special funding privileges should be rescinded.

Oct 06, 2012 12:27pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ScouterT wrote:
I am bothered that the pro LGBT community keeps portraying themselves as victims when it is they who are being the “BULLIES” towards the Boy Scouts of America.
That they are trying to FORCE and interject their beliefs and opinions on a volunteer organization, with well-established policies and codes of conduct that are integral to is mission and have been in place for decades.
From my 14 years of experience as an adult leader the Boy Scouts of America and its members are not “homophobic,” they just feel that the “lifestyle” of the LGBT community is one that best left outside its program. It is similar to the part of Scouting that requires a religious declaration and if you do not have one then the Boy Scout program is not for you.
To put it into context if an organization was based on “Non-Smoking” or “Non-Alcohol” and it clearly stated that to participate in this program and be recipients of its honors and awards a member needs to abstain from products, it does not make them “Smokophobic” or “Alcophobic” it just states that they don’t agree with those practices or that they are not part of their core beliefs. If someone wants to do those things they are free to do so but cannot and should not be members of that organization. If they abstain in the beginning and change their mind later, that is their prerogative, but they are no longer entitled to the awards and honors associated with being a member in full standing.
More importantly there is nothing stopping the LGBT community from forming their own “boys” or “girls” program and turning it into a well-run and respected organization. So it is high time they stop trying to interfere and belittle a great and start forming their own.

Oct 06, 2012 3:51pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ScouterT wrote:
The Boy Scouts of America is a private, non-profit organization engaged in instilling its system of values in young people. It asserts that homosexuality is inconsistent with those values.

The Supreme Court said: “Consequently, we have long understood as implicit in the right to engage in activities protected by the First Amendment a corresponding right to associate with others in pursuit of a wide variety of political, social, economic, educational, religious, and cultural ends.” This right, the Roberts decision continues, is crucial in preventing the majority from imposing its views on groups that would rather express other, perhaps unpopular, ideas. Government actions that may unconstitutionally burden this freedom may take many forms, one of which is “intrusion into the internal structure or affairs of an association” like a “regulation that forces the group to accept members it does not desire.” Forcing a group to accept certain members may impair the ability of the group to express those views, and only those views, that it intends to express. Thus, “freedom of association … plainly presupposes a freedom not to associate.”

Oct 06, 2012 3:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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