Anderson Cooper interviewed Ryan Andresen, who has been in Scouting since he was six, about the Boy Scouts of America decision to deny him Eagle Scout rank solely because he is gay. “We’re not any different, we’re not inadequate, we’re people too,” Andresen tells Cooper when asked what he tells people who challenge his right to be in Scouting.
Andresen still calls the Boy Scouts “an amazing opportunity,” and says he’s “blessed” for having been in the Scouts.
Cooper mentions that a fellow Scout who is gay, Matthew Kimball, but didn’t tell the BSA he was, achieved his Eagle Scout status, and has since reached out to Andresen.
Andresen has a petition at Change.org asking the Boy Scouts of America to allow Ryan his Eagle Scout rank. It has over 415,000 signatures.
“Andresen, who turned 18 earlier this month, had completed all the requirements for Scouting’s top honor, his family said,” according to a report at The Huffington Post:
His Eagle Scout project, a 288-tile “Wall of Tolerance” on an outdoor wall at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in Moraga, where he attended classes, was aimed at combating school bullying.
“I love scouting,” Andresen told a media gathering in front of the building. He added that by enforcing such a policy, “the Scouts are being the bully themselves. Not just to me but for all the others out there who have suffered like me.”
The message seems to have struck a nerve. Andresen has shared his story with national talk show hosts Ellen DeGeneres and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, as well as with the Washington Post, Huffington Post, MSNBC and New York Daily News.
The petition was signed by people from as far away as Iceland and by many former Scouts condemning the national Scouting policy regarding sexual orientation.
“I’ve heard it said that I’m an atheist,” Andresen said. “That’s totally false. I’ve always believed in God. I’ve never not thought there wasn’t a higher power. By asking me to lie about who I am, the Scouts are going against their own values of being trustworthy.”
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