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Family of Gay Boy Scout Gets National TV Chat

Regional Scout executive gives account of why Ryan Andresen 'is no longer eligible for membership in Scouting.'

An Oakland television news reporter and a Patch reporter stood on the porch of the family home in Moraga, chatting with an Andresen family member.

The family was not giving any more statements to the collective media. A national television show had signed the family up to fly to its studios to appear in a segment next week. The national show got the Andresens to agree to stop speaking for now to other media about the case of their 17-year-old son, who was denied an opportunity to qualify for an Eagle Scout award because he is gay, the family says.

Part of the deal, too, was the family not disclosing which national TV show it is.

Patch first reported Thursday on the Andresen family and its petition drawing international attention on Change.org urging the leaders of the local troop to reject the Boy Scouts of America's "discriminatory anti-gay policy" and give Ryan Andresen the Eagle award. Ryan is a senior at Maybeck High School in Berkeley. Andresen's Eagle Scout project is a 288-tile wall of tolerance at Joaquin Moraga Middle School in Moraga.

Defense of Scouts

A regional Boy Scout executive has defended the Scouts' actions in this case. "A 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," reads the statement from John Fenoglio, scout executive for the Mount Diablo Silverado Council of the Boy Scouts in Pleasant Hill. "While the BSA did not proactively ask for this information, based on his statements and after discussion with his family he is being informed that he is no longer eligible for membership in Scouting."

The Change.org petition has climbed to more than 154,000 signatures this week.

A Maine woman wrote: "I think it is pathetic that people in this country still discriminate people for any reason, including sexual orientation. Sometimes, I feel embarrassed to be a part of this country; A country where we're supposed to accept every man as equal, and we can't even do that. I believe Ryan should get his Eagle Scout Award. He has earned it, gay or not. Sexual orientation does not change the character of a person. I am so very sorry Ryan, that you have to put up with this ignorance."

The Patch story on Andresen's appeal has drawn national attention and many comments. That includes one from his mother, Karen Andresen, that sheds some light on how this impasse came about: "I am so glad that the most of the feedback for my son has been positive. Ryan came out to his troop in order to help another Scout member with a bullying issue. This shows courage, honesty, and the desire to put others first. My son was born gay, and hid this for too long due to the shame he felt. The bullying and hazing within this troop was too much for many to handle. I am getting so many letters from former scouts that were affected by name night alone.

"The majority of troops do not uphold the national standards with regard to orientation. I have talked to most of the troops around and they want Ryan to transfer his "work" to their troops. They cannot believe this is happening. I have heard from many clergy who also are in shock. The scoutmaster knew Ryan was gay and his letter was sent out before he got approval for his project. He worked very hard to complete his tolerance wall on time. Why would the scoutmaster lead him on? How can you show zero compassion for someone who entered Scouts at age 6, when orientation was not known. How can you say that he should not get his Eagle for being gay? Do you think he had a choice in this matter? Trust me, he would not choose to suffer in the many ways he has …  By the way, Girl Scouts is a great organization and they don't discriminate, nor does 4H, or even the military. This was never about religion, by the way. I guess the BSA is trying to make it, though."

Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

Dive Turn Work December 30, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Mike's comment is perhaps the dumbest thing I've seen since the Sox decided to leave Martinez on the mound in game seven of the 2003 AL Championship Series. Why doesn't Patch close a story to comments after a certain length of time? This story is from October. It really shouldn't be open to comments in the first place.
karen December 31, 2012 at 06:22 AM
Thank you Chris. I can't believe such ignorance exists in the world. Many teenagers who do not have sex are heterosexual, and the same goes for homosexual teenagers, as well. I really wish that people would get their head out of the gutter, it really says a lot about what you think about. It is not just about sex, but about the whole person. Some people, gay or straight, might be asexual, have lost the desire, or some other reason that is only their business. The only thing that might make any sense that ignorant mike says, why are we talking about gays in scouts? should not matter. I can't believe that anyone thinks that it is OK to treat children this way. Homosexuality is not a moral deviance, bigotry is. Mike, you are not only ignorant, but a bigot, as well. So many people feel that discrimination in the BSA is wrong, and I am still receiving a lot of mail in support. Our story is featured in the January edition of Diablo magazine, and will be in People magazine. We were contacted because many feel that it is wrong to exclude people, whether based on race, physical ability, or sexual orientation. My petition has reached nearly half a million, and policy change is happening as we speak. I am grateful for my son who is both courteous and kind, as well as one of the bravest people that I know. Because of people like Ryan, the BSA is going to change its policies so others will not have to go through what my son has. 2013 Wish: Please show more compassion to others
WENDY LACK December 31, 2012 at 07:04 AM
It is odd that this Patch site does not close comments on old articles such as this. It's unfortunate this publicity stunt continues to receive media coverage. If indeed it is true that "a [BSA] policy change is happening as we speak" then BSA may soon be history. This would be a great loss to American children and families. Actually, when you think about it, there's no upside for BSA to change its rules. None whatsoever. Standing by its principles and maintaining its Scout Oath is essential to the organization's integrity. All donor support will dry up should BSA sell out -- as well it should if the organization if it cannot remain true to its principles. BSA has every right to require its Boy Scout Oath to include the statement "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God . . . ." After all, that's what this flap is all about. It has nothing to do with sexual identity issues, though the publicity-seekers would have it believed otherwise. I proudly stand by the rights of private organizations, such as BSA, to determine their own destinies and rules. Such is the essence of freedom in a Constitutional Republic. In a free society we're allowed to offend and annoy others! 2013 Wish: Please show more compassion to others and think, in advance, about the consequences of your actions.
MIKE ALFORD December 31, 2012 at 07:33 AM
You Know what ---Wendy Is absoulty Right this site should have been closed a Long time ago ! I myself was an Eagle Scout I know what it took to get there I worked hard And I got rewarded for it And I Was proud to have been in the Boy Scouts Of America But In Saying that ---- It Seems Like that NO One Can State Their Opinion on What America Stands For Anymore -- If We Have to listen to your view on the Scouts Than You Can listen to ours ! The Boy Scouts Have always been an organization that has been A place of honer for young American Boys ! ------ And Like the Boy Scout Oath -- On My Honor ---I will do my best to do my duty to God and My Country ! You Know The Trouble with YOU is if the Rest of Us That Do Bileve In God, Country & The American Way Of Life (And The Boy Scouts Of America) Dont Except YOUR way of Thinking Well you Just Cant Handle The FACT --- That We Have OUR rights As Citizens Also --- So You Gave Your Opinion (You have that right) And I Gave You Mine ! So To Be Fair --- DEAL WITH IT ! -------- As Americans --- We Can Agree To Disagree !
karen December 31, 2012 at 09:33 AM
It will change... It will change like other organizations that have. The new President is committed to change. Other organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, 4-H, the Boys & Girls clubs of America and even the U.S. Armed Forces, have put an end to this discrimination.Just because you have a right to discriminate doesn't mean it is right to discriminate. The World Organization of Scouting movement(WOSM), in which the BSA belongs, is against any form of discrimination. Lord Baden Powell was from the UK and they can't believe that this is going on in the U.S. The other countries, such as, Australia, Canada, Sweden, wrote a letter stating the" sadness in our hearts" that the BSA does not share our values in respect to discrimination. I am working as we speak, with Lt Gov Gavin Newsom, Senator Leland Yee, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, and other legislators to inact change. Change WILL happen for the good of all, sorry. I do pray for people like you, and for your children. "Homophobia is like racism, and anti-semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood". -Coretta Scott King

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