By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com January 08 2013 1:42 PM ET
A San Francisco Boy Scout troop has approved an openly gay member's application to be an Eagle Scout after a fierce petition drive spearheaded by the boy's mother.
Ryan Andresen's scoutmaster refused to sign his Eagle application because the scout is openly gay, in line with the national organization's policy barring openly gay scouts and scoutmasters. His mother, Karen Andresen, launched a Change.org campaign, spurring 460,000 people to express their support for her son. The Eagle Scout Board of Review evaluated Ryan Andresen's credentials and recommended him to join the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council December 31, though the national organization can still reject Andresen's membership.
“I want other gay Scouts to know, especially those who are hiding who they really are, that this win is for you. Thank you to everyone who joined my mom’s campaign. Your signatures made this possible,” Ryan Andresen said in a statement Tuesday.
Bonnie Hazarabedian, who was on Ryan Andresen's Eagle Board of Review, said he did "everything right in the process of fighting the Eagle Scout's refusal to sign his application.
"Following BSA advancement policies in such situations, we felt an Eagle Board of Review was justified," she said. "As we do with all Eagle candidates, volunteer Scout leaders -- parents ourselves of current or former Scouts -- met with Ryan to review and discuss his scouting history and advancement records, his Eagle Leadership Project, and his spiritual beliefs and life goals. We are convinced that Ryan has demonstrated he deserves the rank of Eagle Scout."
At least 50 additional petitions have been launched to fight the Boy Scouts of America's policy, led in part by gay rights activist Zach Wahls.
“The Mount Diablo-Silverado Council joins a growing list of Boy Scout councils and charter organizations that are refusing to embrace the Boy Scouts of America’s hurtful anti-gay membership policy,” said Wahls. “The American Medical Association, corporate and political leaders, and countless Scouting communities across the country have spoken out against the dangers of policies that exclude gay youth and leaders. It’s time for the BSA to listen.”