By Diane Anderson-Minshall
Originally published on Advocate.com October 04 2012 3:19 PM ET
Karen Andresen couldn't be more proud of her son Ryan, a senior in high school, an honor student with great SAT scores, who's hoping to attend the University of San Francisco. But someone else doesn't agree.
Ryan joined the Boy Scouts when he was just 6 years old, Andresen says, "and since then, he's dreamed of earning his Eagle Award — the highest rank in the Boy Scouts. Ryan just completed the final requirements to earn his Eagle Award. But because he recently came out to his friends and family as gay, leaders from our local Boy Scout troop say they won't approve his Eagle Award."
This mom-turned-activist has launched a Change.org petition to get her son his Eagle Award; she says that when leadership in Troop 212 in the San Francisco Bay area found out that Ryan was gay, the scoutmaster said he refused to sign the official paperwork designating Ryan as an Eagle Scout, even though Ryan had completed all of the requirements.
A Boy Scout gets his Eagle by earning many badges, completing all lower scout rank requirements, and carrying out an approved final project. It was a 12-year process for Ryan, and for his final project he built a "Tolerance Wall" for his school to show victims of bullying (like Ryan himself) that they are not alone. "Ryan worked countless hours with elementary students to amass a wall of 288 unique tiles, all illustrating acts of kindness," says Andresen.
She's hoping that Ryan's troop could join some of the other scout troops in the U.S. that are "standing up, choosing to reject the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policy."
To sign the petition, go to Change.org.