The Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council said "screw it" to the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy and finally approved 18-year-old Ryan Andresen's Eagle Scout application, after more than 460,000 people signed his petition.
On Dec. 19, the local Boy Scout leaders granted Ryan an official Eagle Board of Review, and before the New Year, submitted their recommendation of approval to the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council. Ryan's application for Eagle Scout, the BSA's highest rank, will now be forwarded to the national organization for final approval.
"I'm just so incredibly happy for Ryan. He's worked so hard for this honor, and as a mother, it means the world to me to know that our local Scouting community believes in him, too," said Karen Andresen, who launched the petition on Change.org. "Regardless of what the BSA's National Advancement Team decides to do with his application, this victory makes it all worth it, and gives me so much hope for the future of the organization."
In October, Ryan's mom launched the petition urging the Boy Scouts to award her son the rank of Eagle Scout after Ryan's scoutmaster refused to sign the Eagle application because the Bay Area teen is gay.
News of this discriminatory denial went viral, and before Ryan knew it, he was telling his story on national television, including an appearance on the The Ellen Show. State politicians sent a letter to the local boy scout troop in support of Ryan, and even honored him at the state capitol.
All the pressure put on the boy scouts worked; Bonnie Hazarabedian, the volunteer District Advancement Chair who headed Ryan's Eagle Board of Review, verified that his application had been approved at the local district and council levels.
Ryan did everything right in this process, with respect and honesty, requesting an Eagle Board of Review under disputed circumstances when his Scoutmaster refused to sign the application. Following BSA advancement policies in such situations, we felt an Eagle Board of Review was justified. 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.
An approval from the Eagle Board of Review would override Ryan's Scoutmaster at Troop 212, Rainer Del Valle, who still hasn't contacted the Andresen family or issued a statement about his refusal to sign Ryan's application, according to the family.
Ryan had completed all of the requirements for his Eagle Scout Award while still a member of BSA, including a really cool project where he built a permanent "Tolerance Wall" at a local middle school to raise awareness about bullying.
"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 said in a statement released today. "It's been a wild and exhausting ride. I'm really looking forward to life getting back to normal, and to being able to focus on my final year of high school and completing my college applications."