Boy Scouts Torn by Denial of Eagle Scout Status to Gay Youth

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January 8, 2013; Source: USA TODAY

A few months ago, NPQ noted that Ryan Andreson had been denied Eagle Scout status because he is avowedly gay. The 18-year-old apparently met all of the other Boy Scouts of America requirements to become an Eagle Scout but was rejected by a local scoutmaster because his openness about his sexuality does not fit with the organization’s interpretation of its own “duty to God” principles. The national Boy Scouts organization upheld this ruling. But now the Mount Diablo-Silverado Council review board, which received the case before Ryan was expelled by the national organization, has recommended to the National Eagle Board of Review that Andreson receive the award.

Andreson’s father, who has since resigned as a scout leader, commented, “The board didn’t look at whether he was gay or not, but whether he completed the requirements to be an Eagle Scout…Getting that Eagle award is not so important to him right now, he is so disappointed in the Boy Scouts…But he recognizes that he had a chance to help a lot of other Scouts out there.” Andreson has received a big show of support from other Boy Scouts including, remarkably, 20 or 30 Eagle medals from other scouts. Also, more than 463,000 people have signed a petition started by Ryan’s mother.

To us, this looks like a potential tipping point for the organization. It will be interesting to watch what happens from here. –Ruth McCambridge