Wanted to Share This News

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Rejected Boy Scout receives outpouring of support


Staff Writer

By | The LookoutMon, Oct 8, 2012

Ryan Andresen, who turned 18 on Monday, was denied his Eagle Scout award. (Andresen family)

Ryan Andresen may have been shunned by the Boy Scouts, but not by scores of strangers who’ve stepped up to pledge their support over his plight.

The California teen made headlines around the world last week after his scoutmaster refused to approve his Eagle Scout award because Ryan is gay.

Since then, more than 350,000 people have signed an online petition urging the leaders of Troop 212 to ignore the Scouts’ anti-gay policy and award Ryan the organization’s highest honor.

“I’m just totally and completely blown away and amazed,” said Ryan, who will appear on the “Ellen” TV talk show this Thursday. “I can’t believe it. I really want to thank everyone for showing their support. It means so much to me.”

His supporters include many former Scouts who say they plan to pledge their own coveted Eagle pins to Ryan.

“In my mind he’s earned it simply by refusing to be anything other than who he is,” Andrew Lanham wrote in an email to Yahoo News. “As an Eagle Scout, I’m appalled by the BSA’s continuing bigotry. It sounds to me like Ryan is already one of my fellow Eagles, even if the organization won’t recognize it.”

Eric Andresen had to set up a post office box over the weekend to accommodate the number of people wanting to give his son their pins.

“We’ve been overwhelmed, especially with the overwhelming amount of positive support and the Eagles that have volunteered to turn in their medals, either back to [Boy Scouts of America] or to Ryan,” he wrote in an email.

An alumnus of Ryan’s hometown troop set up a Facebook page to invite others to pledge their pins and plan a gathering to honor the disavowed Scout.

“One’s Eagle Ceremony is the crowning affirmation of all those great experiences, lessons, values, and friendships,” Matthew Kimball wrote on the Facebook page. “It haunts me that my friends, people I’ve loved, admired, and respected, people that have been my greatest mentors, would deny Ryan this affirming experience.”

Kimball, a third-generation Eagle, wrote that he meant no disrespect toward the Scouts and isn’t trying to challenge the private organization’s right to determine its criteria for membership and awards.

“But I do feel that it does its own self both harm and disrespect when it puts its principles, even were they to be unquestionably sound, before actual people, actual human beings—in this case, a young man who has undoubtedly endured an incredible amount of difficulty in reconciling who he is with a group of friends and mentors whom he admires and for whom he has striven for over a decade to emulate and make proud,” he posted on Facebook.

Ryan Andresen has been a Scout for 12 years. (Andresen family)

Under Scout rules, Eagle candidates must meet the requirements by their 18th birthday. Ryan, a Scout since he was 6, recently finished an extensive service project and the needed paperwork but hasn’t been able to get his troop leader’s approval. He turned 18 on Monday. The rules do provide for a 90-day window after a Scout’s 18th birthday, but Ryan’s father said the family has not heard from the troop leader.

“It hurts a lot,” Eric Andresen wrote. “Ryan should have received an apology from the scoutmaster by now.”

Ryan’s scoutmaster has not returned messages from Yahoo News.

In addition to not meeting the group’s membership standard on sexual orientation, a national spokesman for the Scouts said, Ryan also disagreed with the BSA’s religious principles.

Eric Andresen objected to that portrayal.

“Ryan has never said anything about being atheist to anyone, because he’s not,” his father wrote. “Ryan has labeled himself as agnostic and continues to believe in a supreme being—he just hasn’t figured out what form that is or how he wants to recognize it.”

Officials with Change.org, an Internet social change platform, said the rapid response to Ryan’s petition is one of the biggest they’ve seen in the site’s four years.

“It’s clear from this petition that many people around the country see the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy as widely out of touch and this denial of Ryan’s Eagle award particularly troubling,” said Change.org’s Mark Anthony Dingbaum.

8 thoughts on “Wanted to Share This News

  1. Please consider this opinion from someone who was a Boy Scout all the wa thru High School (after which I began ‘scouting’ for girls in college)…

    Political Correctness has really muddled the issues of constitutional freedom of association here in my opinion. here’s why i feel that way.

    if one doesn’t agree with the tenants of an org, a private, voluntary participation and non-compulsary organization… they have the freedom to NOT participate and i would say the RESPONSIBILITY to separate themselves from it, rather than attempting to ‘force’ their disagreement on the REST of those who agree with the org, and voluntarily associate with it.

    this is what Voluntary and Non-Compulsary are all about. No one is attempting to ‘force’ Gay young men to ‘change’ their position or ‘force’ their participation in the Boy Scouts. They only ask for Honesty and Responsibility. Voluntary participation in keeping with Voluntary Association according to mutual agreement on ‘morals’, or if they don’t agree… that’s fine, just have the Honesty, Responsibility, and the Integrity (three BIG morals that are I think supported by all) not to participate. Should be as simple as that.

    The Boy Scouts of America is a private, voluntary, non-compulsary org. Just like any more ‘open’ Liberal org, they have the right to make their own rules, exclude who they wish if they don’t agree, and enforce their own standards of conduct with those who fail to ‘be’ who they ‘said’ they were going to be or ‘do’ (or not do) what they ‘said’ they were going to do. and regardless of the public’s support of the boy’s ‘disagreement’ with those standard, neither the boy, nor the ‘enlightened public’ have the right to ‘impose’ that disagreement on the VAST Majority of Boy Scout Troops and again ‘voluntary participants’ who ‘freely choose’ to associate.

    it really is a ‘reverse’ type the common charge of ‘imposing your morals on us’. and while the charge in this case is not valid (because of the ability to voluntarily disassociate), no one thinks to level the charge where it is actually taking place (the public attack on a ‘private’, voluntary associative organization. something to think about. Thanks again for the opportunity to participat freely on this post. I appreciate it.

    1. Women and blacks were for many years barred from various clubs, groups, etc. Liberals changed that. We are slowly pulling down these old-thinking institutions and rebuilding them.

      On the one hand, you are absolutely right, the Boy Scouts is a voluntary group, one that teaches young man to be good Christian men. Not just good men. Good Christian men. I should like to think a good man, Christian or otherwise, would know that keeping a boy from attaining the ultimate prize of Boy Scouts, just on the basis of his sexual orientation is Emphatically and completely WRONG.

      When that Eagle Scout began scouting as a 5 year old do you really think he or his parents thought about his sexual orientation? Then when he’s 13, 14 and he’s starting to figure it out, he’s too committed to the Scouts to quit. He’s still a good young man.

      That’s what Liberals what Conservatives to know. That a gay man is still a man and deserves the same respect as any man. The Scouts tell us they want to make good Christian men out of our boys, and when one of them turns out to be gay, all the Scouts have taught him is prejudice. What kind of lesson is that?

      I also appreciate your willingness to hear my side of the argument, as I am interested in yours. I agree the Scouts is a voluntary group, so is the military, and even there we allow anyone who wants to serve, and about damn time! Personally I would have nothing to do with the Scouts, and don’t understand why anyone would have anything to do with any organization that openly derides any other group.

  2. “The Scouts tell us they want to make good Christian men out of our boys, and when one of them turns out to be gay, all the Scouts have taught him is prejudice. What kind of lesson is that?”

    Prejuduce is NOT the issue here, it really is about choice and respecting ‘others’ choices.. i know that may sound counter intuitive to you so i will attempt to explain my point of view.

    as to your impression of the BSA as a ‘christian’ org not just trying to make good young men, but good ‘christian’ men, i would disagree from experience having been IN the boyscouts as well as knowing their charter. they are NOT a christian org. they are however a group that promotes what used to be promoted as ‘morality’ in this country and the world for thousands of years- namely heterosexual relationships.

    now, argue if you will whether that is ‘true’ of society today or not, it really doesn’t get to the main issue. the young man never would be ‘committed to the point of not being able to quit’ like you say, just not the case. I can name off several friends and classmates who when they got old enough for highschool activities, had no problem whatsoever ditching Boy Scouts for any countless numbers of reasons. My brother being one of the first that popps to mind. as i said, it is a ‘voluntary’ participation/association with certain rules of ‘morality’ agreed to and enforced just as any other group is. the argument of whether they ‘keep’ such rules or change such rules isn’t society’s to make or impose on the BSA. unless they want to say promoting a heterosexual male morality is somehow ‘immoral’ as a societal norm, and i think no one would go that far.

    long and short, he agreed to certain moral standards that he either changed in his agreement, or hid his ‘true self’. i’m not judging either way because i don’t know the young man. but at such a point that he ‘knew’ he was gay, and either Hid the truth or assumed it didn’t matter in the final analysis… (the fact that we are ‘only’ exchanging over a kid somewhere in america who didn’t get his Eagle Scout because he was gay and we wouldn’t even hear of it for some other ‘moral’ infraction like stealing or cheating on a high school math test should give you some indication as to how obviously incorrect that assumption would be)… the young man had a responsibility to be Honest and with integrity, voluntarily withdraw himself, or at least not complain when he was ‘found out’ and asked to abide by the consequences of his prior agreement.
    no prejudice involved. freedom of association and voluntary participation, as well as Responsibility to NOT to impose HIS morality on the BSA, without their consent. for him and society to do THAT ‘would’ be both prejudiced and ‘intollerant’ of other’s freedom to choose. I think neither of us would want that…

  3. you think this is an ‘anti-Discrimination’ issue?
    so is it ‘only’ ok to discriminate against people who ‘think’ thru issues rather than just emotionally reacting by appealing to ‘fairness’ and unfair attacks on christians and non-christian people who still hold to traditional gender roles and morality?

    everyone makes ‘discriminations’ or judgements or choices everyday. the REAL issue is what informs those decisions and whether they are based in reality or someones ‘discussion silencing’ charge of ‘unfairness’ and ‘discrimination’.

  4. it’s not just the christians that have held the ‘moral’ thru the centuries… you’re just not being honest with that characterization either.
    but thanks for the snarky attack on the ‘feelings of a whole religion’ im sure obama who said that about those who spoke against islam would be shocked at your ‘intollerant and hateful’ comment. (i’m not personally offended or insecure about your sarcasm toward my religion, just reapplying what Pres Obama said)
    this is not tollerant, and why is it always ‘christians’ who are the target of these kind of attacks?
    why is acceptable or even ‘preferrable’ to attack christian faith, when we both would agree it’s intollerant to blindly (and falsely) attack any other faith?

    something else to be considered in the effort to stop bigotry, don’t you think?

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