A Moraga boy scout denied his Eagle rank because of his sexuality has found himself on the front lines of a national push for equality by gay scouts who have been barred from participating as scouts or serving as the organization’s leaders.
Ryan Andresen, 18, was in line to receive his Eagle badge after what was generally recognized as an exemplary scouting career when he was informed he would not be given the rank because he is gay. The news came as a crushing blow for Andresen, who promptly found himself swept along by his new role as spokesman for scouts victimized by the organization’s anti-gay stance. A series of appearances on national talk shows followed, along with support from political figures and a massive show of support expressed via social media.
“It has been unbelievable,” Andresen told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I didn’t think we’d get 100 people…” (to sign a petition urging the scouts to reconsider their position. More than 460,000 have signed, so far.)
Andresen is one of several gay scouts or leaders whose cases have attracted attention – and reams of bad press for the scouts – in recent months. On Monday, under pressure from sponsors, political figures, and faced with a drastic decline in membership in the organization’s Cub Scouts program, the Boy Scouts of America indicated it was ready to end its policy of exclusion of gay scouts or leaders… and that sounds like a step in the right direction to us.