A student at a private Berkeley high school was recently denied the Boy Scouts of America’s most coveted achievement on grounds of being gay and is now being forced out of membership completely.
Despite spending numerous hours building a “tolerance wall” in a nearby high school to qualify for the Eagle Scout Award, Maybeck High School senior Ryan Andresen was denied the award in spite of having completed the requirements. Furthermore, Andresen’s membership is being revoked as a result of his alleged failure to comply with religious and sexual identity guidelines.
The organization’s officials claim that Andresen was rejected for the award on the basis of his sexual orientation but also for violating the organization’s oath, which stipulates that members must honor their “Duty to God.”
“While the BSA did not proactively ask for this information, based on (Andresen’s) statements and after discussion with his family, he is being informed that he is no longer eligible for membership in scouting,” said Deron Smith, the organization’s spokesperson.
Andresen — who has been a Boy Scout since he was six years old — started gaining international attention after the boy’s mother circulated an online petition pressuring the scoutmaster for San Francisco’s Troop 212 to sign off on the award. The petition on Change.org had collected more than 350,000 signatures as of Monday, and it continues to grow.
“Ryan worked countless hours with elementary students to amass a wall of 288 unique tiles, all illustrating acts of kindness,” said Ryan’s mother Karen Andresen, in the petition.
According to an article by ABC News, the troop’s scoutmaster Rainer Del Valle — who ultimately did not sign off on the project — knew of Andresen’s sexuality but was nonetheless excited about the project.
“(Del Valle) was leading me on the whole time,” Ryan Andresen said in a comment in the ABC article. “He was in love with my project.”
Del Valle did not respond to ABC’s requests for comment.
In recent years, the organization has received heated criticism for its policies regarding sexual orientation.
According to an article from NBC News, the Boy Scouts began a private review of its policies regarding sexual orientation in 2010 but ultimately rejected any changes. The decision drew international criticism, including a public statement of opposition from President Barack Obama.
Contact D.J. Sellarole at [email protected].