The Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council in California has recently approved the Eagle Scout application of 18-year-old Ryan Andresen, a 12-year-long member of the Boy Scouts organization who was previously denied Eagle Scout status because he is openly gay. The Bay Area Boy Scout council's decision to allow Anderson the ranking of Eagle Scout is in direct violation of the Boy Scouts of America's antiquated and bigoted anti-gay policy, torpedoes be damned.
Says Ryan's father Eric Andresen, "It's gotten to the point that getting the Eagle doesn't matter so much. It's the message that counts. It's the desire that no other Scout should ever have to go through this."
His mother, whose campaigning has gathered at least 460,000 signatures on Ryan's behalf through a Change.org, petition takes a slightly softer approach:
"I'm just so incredibly happy for Ryan. He's worked so hard for this honor, and as a mother, it means the world to me to know that our local Scouting community believes in him, too. Regardless of what the BSA's National Advancement Team decides to do with his application, this victory makes it all worth it, and gives me so much hope for the future of the organization."
The actions of their local scouting community has indeed been exemplary. Volunteer District Advancement Chair Bonnie Hazarabedian, who oversaw Ryan's application has released this statement on the chapter's behalf:
"Ryan did everything right in this process, with respect and honesty, requesting an Eagle Board of Review under disputed circumstances when his Scoutmaster refused to sign the application. Following BSA advancement policies in such situations, we felt an Eagle Board of Review was justified. As we do with all Eagle candidates, volunteer Scout leaders — parents ourselves of current or former Scouts - met with Ryan to review and discuss his scouting history and advancement records, his Eagle Leadership Project, and his spiritual beliefs and life goals. We are convinced that Ryan has demonstrated he deserves the rank of Eagle Scout."
While the BSA's National Advancement Team is expected to fight against Ryan's recommendation, organizations like Scouts for Equality are hopeful that the actions of the Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council will encourage other districts to take similar stands.
Ryan, poor thing, is just looking forward to things returning to normal. He addressed his supporters, saying:
"I want other gay Scouts to know, especially those who are hiding who they really are, that this win is for you. Thank you to everyone who joined my mom's campaign. Your signatures made this possible. It's been a wild and exhausting ride. I'm really looking forward to life getting back to normal, and to being able to focus on my final year of high school and completing my college applications."
A three finger salute to you, kid.
[UPDATE] Despite unanimous approval from the local board, local Scout Executive John Fenoglio (who, if you're feeling so inclined, you can contact here) is now refusing to sign and process Andresen's application. According to Bonnie Hazabedian, "When I dropped off Ryan's unanimously approved Eagle Board of Review application and report on December 31, Mr. Fenoglio looked me in the eyes, patted the stack of papers, and said, ‘We'll sign it and send it on, but can't promise what will happen from there.' I'm totally perplexed by this statement from Scout Executive Fenoglio, a man I greatly respect and admire."
What a depressing (though not entirely surprising) turn of events.
Boy Scouts review board awards Eagle award to gay scout [qSalt Lake]
Image via Anthony/Berenyi/Shutterstock.