Gay Calif. Teen's Hopes for Eagle Award Dashed, Despite Support

Ryan Andresen spent a decade completing requirements, but denied highest award.

ByABC News
January 8, 2013, 12:32 PM

Jan. 8, 2013— -- Ryan Andresen, a gay teen from California who has spent a decade working toward his Eagle Scout award, has had his hopes dashed for the organization's highest honor.

A review board from the Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council has challenged the national organization and recommended approval of Andresen's project, but the council staff executive will not forward the application on to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), according to The Associated Press.

The four-member volunteer board agreed to review Andresen's qualifications and unanimously approved the 18-year-old's application on Dec. 31, according to the AP.

BSA spokesman Deron Smith told that neither the local nor national council has given the final approval of the award to Andresen.

It was previously reported incorrectly by Reuters that the council was "directly challenging" the national organization's ban on gay Scouts and leaders.

Andresen's plight became public last year when his mother Karen Andresen, 49, posted a petition on that has since garnered 450,000 signatures.

"I want other gay Scouts to know, especially those who are hiding who they really are, that this win is for you," said Andresen in a release for the gay advocacy group GLAAD. He is now 18, the cut-off for completing the rank of Eagle. "Thank you to everyone who joined my mom's campaign. I really do have the best parents in the world."

But the national organization has said Andresen is still not eligible for the highest award.

"The Eagle application was forwarded, by a volunteer, to the local council but it was not approved because this young man proactively stated that he does not agree to Scouting's principle of 'duty of God' and does not meet Scouting's membership requirements," said a prepared statement from Smith. "Therefore, he is not eligible to receive the rank of Eagle."

The Boy Scouts of America has said that it does not actively ask the sexual orientation of boys.

But Karen Andresen told last fall that her son believes in a "higher power."

"...The only reason he's being denied the rank of Eagle is because the Boy Scouts of America has a problem with Ryan being gay," she said.

His Eagle project, a "tolerance wall," was inspired by the years of hazing he said he endured in middle school in Moraga, Calif., and later at Boy Scout summer camp, where his nicknames were "Tinkerbell" and "faggot."

GLAAD is applauding the move, even though nothing has changed.

"Councils across the nation are rejecting the Boy Scouts' grossly discriminatory ban on gay scouts, echoing the support of fellow scouts, business leaders, and the American public," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick in statement.

"How long can the BSA go on ignoring its own members and its core values of fairness, leadership and integrity?" he asked. "The growing number of councils welcoming gay scouts and leaders reminds BSA autocrats: change will come with you, or without you."

The Boy Scouts is one of the largest youth organizations in the country with 2.7 million members and more than 1 million adult volunteers.

Many voices, including individuals within the organization, have opposed the Boy Scouts policy.

AT &T CEO Randall Stephenson, an executive board member of the Boy Scouts of America, has said he was committed to ending the ban. He takes over as president in 2014.