Ryan Andresen, a gay Boy Scout who was kicked out of his local Boy Scout troop and denied his Eagle Scout Award because of his sexual orientation, delivered more than 400,000 petition signatures today to the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council in Pleasant Hill, urging the Council to allow him to receive his Eagle Award.
Ryan was joined by his mother, Karen Andresen, who started the petition on Change.org urging the Boy Scouts not to deny Ryan his Eagle Award. During the petition delivery event, Ryan and Karen said that it wasn’t fair to punish Ryan because of his sexual orientation — especially after Ryan had given more than 12 years of service to the Boy Scouts and completed all of the requirements necessary to become an Eagle Scout.
“My son Ryan is my hero. He’s so incredibly brave, smart, and talented. It hurts me so much to watch Ryan suffer for being who he is, because to me, he’s perfect,” Andresen said outside of the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council office this afternoon. “Ryan has worked for nearly 12 years to become an Eagle Scout, and nothing would make him more proud than earning that well-deserved distinction.”
Ryan’s capstone project involved assembling a “Tolerance Wall” at a local middle school to address bullying. But despite meeting all of the Eagle Scout requirements, officials with the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council still decided to kick Ryan out of the Scouts because of his sexual orientation.
Ryan said during today’s petition delivery that he was delivering the Change.org petition to the Council’s office not just for him, but for scores of Scouts who have suffered under the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
“In defending their hurtful policy against gay people, the Boy Scouts are pushing young men like me away– young men who really need the Boy Scouts. I wasn’t the first person to suffer under this policy, and until the Boy Scouts change their policy, I won’t be the last,” Ryan said.
Joining Ryan and his mother at today’s petition delivery were Ryan’s father, Eric Andresen, who resigned a volunteer leadership position with the Boy Scout troop after his son was denied his Eagle Scout Award, as well as Matthew Kimball, a gay Eagle Scout and member of the national group Scouts for Equality, who has been collecting pins from Eagle Scouts in the community to give to Ryan. California Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner was also in attendance, and publicly recognized Ryan for his courage in standing up to the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policies.
After delivering the 400,000 petition signatures, officials with the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council met with Ryan and his parents for a short meeting. Earlier this month, officials with the Council sent Ryan a letter telling him that he was being removed from the Boy Scouts’ membership roles because of his sexual orientation. A copy of that letter is publicly available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/
“This campaign is far from over. We’re going to keep fighting until all wonderful young men like Ryan are treated equally in Scouting,” Karen Andresen said.
Ryan and Karen offered to help the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council stand up against the national ban on gay Scouts, though for now Council officials told Ryan and Karen that they were planning to stand by the national Boy Scout policy barring gay Scouts from participating.
Live signature totals from Karen Andresen’s petition:
To view photos of the petition delivery outside of the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council:
Ryan Andresen’s interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show: