The Boy Scouts of America on Thursday said that they had denied a gay California teen Eagle Scout honors because he had not lived up to the principle of “duty to God” with his sexual orientation.
The Scoutmaster for Troop 212 in Moraga decided that Ryan Andresen was “no longer eligible for membership in Scouting” after they learned he was gay, even though he had completed all of his requirements for Eagle Scout, including building a “tolerance wall” to honor those that had been bullied like himself.
“I want everyone to know that [the Eagle award] should be based on accomplishment, not your sexual orientation,” Ryan Andresen’s mother, Karen, told NBC News. “Ryan entered Scouts when he was six years old and in no way knew what he was.”
“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,” she added.
Karen Andresen said that the Eagle Scout decision was “a total shock” because the scoutmaster was aware that her son had come out in July and had said nothing.
The Boy Scouts of America have a longstanding policy of banning gay leaders and Scouts.
“[Ryan] 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,” Boy Scouts spokesperson Deron Smith explained to NBC News in a statement. “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.”
Karen Andresen created a Change.org petition calling on the Boy Scouts to award Ryan with the Eagle Scout honor that he earned. The petition had received over 132,000 signatures by Friday morning.
Watch this video from KGO, broadcast Oct. 4, 2012.