A local Boy Scout who has drawn national attention after recently being kicked out of his troop because he is gay delivered a petition with more than 400,000 signatures to troop leaders Thursday demanding he receive the Eagle Award he earned.
Longtime Boy Scout Ryan Andresen, 18, of Moraga, presented boxes filled with signed petitions to the Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council in Pleasant Hill Thursday afternoon, along with his parents, Karen and Eric Andresen.
The signatures have accumulated from supporters nationwide over the past two weeks since the teen's mother posted the petition on Change.org.
She said that her son had been a Boy Scout for 12 years until recently, after telling Troop 212 leaders that he is gay.
Although Andresen completed all of the requirements to earn the Eagle rank -- Scouting's final merit award - he was denied the honor due to
his sexual orientation, she said.
John Fenoglio, scout executive for the Mount Diablo-Silverado council, which oversees Troop 212, reaffirmed that Andresen's membership was
revoked because he is gay, following the Boy Scouts of America's policy prohibiting gay members.
Karen Andresen pledged at a news conference outside the Boy Scout Council's offices Thursday to continue advocating for her son until he
receives his Eagle Award, as well as for other gay Scouts.
"The sad truth is, Ryan's situation is not unique," she said. "Countless Scouts have been removed from Scouting, simply for being honest
with themselves and other Scouts."
Ryan Andresen, who wore his Boy Scout uniform Thursday, recalled how earlier this year, he earned his Eagle badge by completing a capstone
project. He said he spent hours at his former middle school building an anti-bullying "Tolerance Wall" with tiles made by students depicting acts of kindness.
"Unfortunately the Boy Scouts, in deciding to follow its hurtful policy against gay people, are being bullies themselves," he said.
The Andresens said they had not heard from the Boy Scout troop leaders since receiving a letter earlier this month informing them that Ryan's membership had been revoked not only because of his sexual orientation but also because "he does not agree to Scouting's commitment and obligation
of 'duty to God'."
"I've always believed in a higher power and I do have a god," Andresen said Thursday, adding that he had never expressed otherwise to his scout leaders.
Scout representatives took the boxes full of petition signatures Thursday and met with the Andresens following the news conference.