Ryan Andresen had recently completed the requirements to earning his Eagle Scout award, including building a "tolerance wall" for victims of bullying like himself, but his Scoutmaster would not sign off on honoring him with the Boy Scouts’ highest ranking because he is gay, his mother said.
The Boy Scouts of America have a longstanding policy denying membership to gay leaders and Scouts, which they reaffirmed earlier this year after a two-year confidential review of the controversial ban. Andresen’s father, Eric, resigned as assistant Scoutmaster after the Scoutmaster for Troop 212 in Moraga, Calif., confirmed Tuesday night that Ryan wouldn’t get the award, Karen Andresen told NBC News.
“I want everyone to know that [the Eagle award] should be based on accomplishment, not your sexual orientation. Ryan entered Scouts when he was six years
old and in no way knew what he was," said Karen Andresen, 49, a stay-at-home mother of three. "I think right now the Scoutmaster is sending Ryan the message that he’s not a valued human being and I want Ryan to know that he is valued … and that people care about him.”
Ryan, 17, came out in July. Andresen said Scoutmaster Rainer Del Valle knew about Ryan's sexual orientation and they had no idea he wouldn't sign off on the official paperwork.
It was “a total shock," she said, adding that Ryan was led all along to believe his Scoutmaster would do so.
Eric Andresen, a 52-year-old owner of a property management company, is working on an appeal of the decision, said Karen, who has also started an online petition calling for her son to receive his award. Other assistant Scoutmasters supported Ryan's bid for the Eagle Scout ranking, she said.
Del Valle and the Boy Scouts of America did not immediately respond to phone calls and emails seeking comment.
To earn the Eagle rank, which is in its 100th year, Scouts must progress through five lower ranks, earn 21 merit badges and serve six months in a leadership position, among completing other tasks. More than two million young men have earned the rank.