Ryan Andresen had dreamed of becoming an Eagle Scout from the age of six and had steadily worked towards it, creating as a project in high school a ‘tolerance wall’ of 288 unique tiles is an effort to create awareness of the need to combat bullying. He was devastated when his troop leader said that he could not be made an Eagle Scout because he had come out as gay.
A campaign by his parents to overturn the rule resulted in nearly half a million petition signatures and resulted in a review board of his local Mount Diablo-Silverado chapter unanimously recommending awarding him the Eagle rank.
When the review board passed on the recommendation to the Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council, the official who took it said that it would be approved and sent to the national body for ratification. Normally the national body routinely approves the district’s recommendations but this application would undoubtedly set up a nasty fight, since the national body in 2002 formally endorsed a policy that expressly excluded atheists and homosexuals from membership.
But then the local Council denied the review board’s recommendation with a spokesperson saying that it was because Andresen did not uphold its “membership standards”. I suspect that the national body had got wind of this and moved to prevent the problem from landing on its desk where denying approval would undoubtedly garner much greater negative publicity than if it remained a local controversy. However a spokesperson did make a statement.
Boys Scout national spokesman Deron Smith said that Ryan Andresen’s application didn’t meet the group’s standards.
“The Eagle application was forwarded, by a volunteer, to the local council but it was not approved because this young man proactively stated that he does not agree to Scouting’s principle of ‘Duty to God’ and does not meet Scouting’s membership requirements,” Smith said. “Therefore, he is not eligible to receive the rank of Eagle.”
The Boy Scouts of America, like the Catholic Church and other anti-gay groups, will become increasingly isolated and marginalized and will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the modern world.