Teenager Denied Eagle Scout Because He’s Gay

A California teenager is being denied elevation to Eagle Scout because the Boy Scouts found out he was gay:

Ryan Andresen spent 12 years as a Boy Scout. Now that he’s 17 and about to graduate from high school, he completed the final requirement to receive the Eagle Scout award, which signifies the highest rank in the organization.

Except, according to his mother Karen, when he submitted the paperwork, the scoutmaster for Troop 212 in the San Francisco Bay area told him he could not give him the Eagle Scout honor because he was gay.

His mother has started an online petition to protest the decision and it’s already gathered 143,877 electronic signatures.

“It hurts me so much to watch Ryan suffer for being who he is, because to me, he’s perfect,” Karen wrote on the petition. “Ryan has worked for nearly 12 years to become an Eagle Scout, and nothing would make him more proud than earning that well-deserved distinction.”

The Boy Scouts of America sent a statement to several news organizations, including ABCin which they say they didn’t inquireabout Ryan’s sexual orientation.

“This scout proactively notified his unit leadership and Eagle Scout counselor that he does not agree to scouting’s principle of ‘Duty to God’ and does not meet scouting’s membership standard on sexual orientation,” Deron Smith, a spokesman for the organization said in a statement. “Agreeing to do one’s ‘Duty to God’ is a part of the scout Oath and Law and a requirement of achieving the Eagle Scout rank.”

In an interview with Yahoo! News Ryan said that his scoutmaster knew he was gay.

“He had been telling me all along that we’d get by the gay thing,” Ryan told Yahoo News. “It was by far the biggest goal of my life. It’s totally devastating.”

Now, as I’ve said before when dealing with BSA issues, the Boy Scouts of America are a private organization and they’ve got every right to set whatever rules and policies they wish. I can’t help but think, though, of what they’re actually encouraging here. If Anderson had simply kept quiet about his sexual orientation, he would have likely made Eagle Scout without any problem. Since he apparently told the truth, he’s being punished for no reason other than who he is. In other words, the Boy Scouts are encouraging their members to lie. Isn’t that against the Boy Scout Oath and Law? Why yes, I think it is.

Eagle Scout Merit Badge via Wikimedia Commons

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. mantis says:

    In other words, the Boy Scouts are encouraging their members to lie.

    Indeed. They are teaching bigotry and lying as virtues.

    The scouts are great, but the BSA leadership are awful people.

  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    If I had been a Scout, and had reached the rank of Eagle Scout, I would send him mine. Sadly, I was not and did not.

  3. DC Loser says:

    I am an active boy scout committee member in my sons’ troop. This makes me so sad and ashamed to be associated with this group.

  4. legion says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve seriously considered returning mine, but the BSA is just like the GOP – they are run by a cabal of conservative, religious old white dudes, and no outside pressure will make them change. Nothing will change until the current crop of jerks gets old & leaves. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t gotten my own son into Scouting, but maybe I’ll be able to recommend it for my grandkids someday.

  5. Ben says:

    @legion:

    the BSA is just like the GOP – they are run by a cabal of conservative, religious old white dudes, and no outside pressure will make them change. Nothing will change until the current crop of jerks gets old & leaves.

    Exactly. There are a whole lot of crummy things about our society that won’t get better until a whole generation of bigots dies off.

  6. Anderson says:

    I’m curious about the “duty to God” part. Is he presumed not to meet that because he’s gay, or is it a separate issue like atheism?

    Regardless of their ability to set their own standards, it’s obvious they deemed this kid to be a Scout in good standing for many years. For them to suddenly say he’s not qualified, makes a mockery of their so-called standards.

  7. Scott says:

    Scouting has so much to offer kids of all ages. As a former Scout who enjoyed the program and benefited it from it and whose children also enjoyed it, it saddens me no end that adults in this country continually seek to screw up good things.

  8. DC Loser says:

    I know that this would never happen in my troop. We just let the kids be themselves and try to foster in them their leadership and a good attitude towards all things and people, and to teach them to always do the right thing.

  9. bookdragon says:

    I’m curious about the ‘Duty to God’ bit too. My son is in boy scouts, in a troop associated with the faith he’s being raised in. This denom does not consider homosexuality to be a sin. Given that there are a growing number of denominations and faith movements coming to this conclusion, I have to wonder how the organization can impose its particular concept of ‘Duty to God’ unless it comes right out and states that UUs, Episcopalians, UCC, Reform Jews, etc. need not apply because the BSA considers their definitions of ‘Duty to God’ to be deficient and/or aberrant.

  10. Gromitt Gunn says:

    As if the point wasn’t already obvious enough, this kid’s Eagle Scout project was an anti-bullying program at a local elementary school.

  11. legion says:

    @bookdragon: That’s an outstanding point – when the Scoutmaster, or whatever jackhole at corporate, makes a decision like this, he’s saying that “Duty to God” only means Duty to that one man’s personal God, regardless of the religious belief of the Scout himself. What a despicably poor example that Scoutmaster is.

  12. CB says:

    If I had been a Scout, and had reached the rank of Eagle Scout, I would send him mine. Sadly, I was not and did not.

    My brother’s friend did just that, after having recieved it only three weeks ago. When you take into consideration all of the seemingly endless work that goes into getting an Eagle award, you realize just how huge that gesture is. Youre still an Eagle scout, no matter what, but that little medallion means a hell of alot.

    Agreed with mantis. The scouts are excellent. The leadership is awful.

  13. ernieyeball says:

    @Ben: There are a whole lot of crummy things about our society that won’t get better until a whole generation of bigots dies off.

    Dream on…

  14. Ben says:

    @ernieyeball:

    I’m not saying bigotry will go away altogether. There are bigots in every generation. But the generation that is in its 70s and 80s right now is basically full of bigots, certainly every single one I’ve ever had a conversation with. Their deaths will significantly improve the discourse in this country.

  15. The Q says:

    Ben, sorry old boy, I’ve met many bigots in their 40s and 50s and most vote Repub.

    Also, what if a Muslim kid joins the scouts? How do they feel about his duty to “Allah”?

  16. anjin-san says:

    Right up the road from me. A frickin’ disgrace. Makes me sorry I ever had anything to do with scouting.

  17. DC Loser says:

    Muslim scouts are just like any other scouts in the BSA. They have qualifications to meet for their religious achievements.

    http://www.leesburgtoday.com/news/article_ec5b561e-e4da-11e1-a42b-0019bb2963f4.html

  18. The Q says:

    Danm, whats this world coming to when potential Al Qaeda members can join the scouts but not gays.

  19. matt says:

    @The Q: sarcasm?