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.

Miles VanBuren October 09, 2012 at 04:04 PM
@Lori, your buried in the weeds. Your trying to catch a ghost looking in the handbook. The BSA does not want gays in their boys club. They are a private organization and can make up any rules they desire remember we live in the USA not Iran. If this was that important to Ryan he should have not come out publicly and just completed his goal to get his eagle scout and then got on with his life. Look how many years people like Ellen, Rosie, Anderson etc. kept private their sexual preference to advance their careers. Once on solid footing they each came out when they knew it would not hurt their careers. We are so beyond Ryan's injustice and in the circus big tent with Ellen pandering for ratings. Why do you think they have him muzzled to not talk with any other media outlets. All about the ratings now you {Ryan} are just being used to sell advertisement. But enjoy your 15 minutes of fame because next week you will be nothing more than a foot note to an old story. The BSA is not going to change their policies. So how does this help the next poor kid who is gay and wants to be a boy scout...? The issue here is not gay but BULLYING and that is what needs to be stopped. No kid should ever suffer bullying for being gay, over weight, nerdy etc.
Lori October 09, 2012 at 04:25 PM
@Miles VanBuren You make many points in your comment, some of them valid, others not. To begin, I'm not buried in the weeds at all. In fact, my son is currently an active Scout in an extremely large troop, so I'm very familiar with the rules. That doesn't mean I agree. Nor does it mean all troops agree. I was merely refuting the language Triple Canopy was citing by clarifying how the BSA defines "morally straight" and "clean". He can't use the Law and Oath to take his stand because neither addresses sexual orientation. The BSA position on gay Scouts is another issue. I don't agree with it and neither do a lot of other people. I believe it is directly contradictory to the Law and Oath. Yes, the private organization can make up their rules, but those of us who disagree can also have an opinion. If enough Scouts and families of Scouts take a stand, the BSA may, in fact, change their policies. How else does change occur? I agree wholeheartedly that bullying needs to be stopped-anywhere it occurs. I applaud Ryan for standing his ground. HE is the epitome, in my opinion, of the strong character & high standards that the Boy Scouts profess to instill.
Miles VanBuren October 09, 2012 at 04:39 PM
So you are comfortable with Ryan taking the arrows for your troop -Good lord why would you want your kids to members of an organization that treat someone like Ryan this way. The hypocrisy of your rants are stunning to me. Here's a thought if you are truly supportive of Ryan and his cause why don't you sit down with all the other moms of boys in your troop and have them all come out and say they are gay. In fact let's have all of the boy scout kids across America come out tomorrow and say they are gay and force the BSA to kick everyone out of their organization. it would never happen. If you want to make change hit them were it hurts DUES=MONEY without it they can't afford to stay in business. Every-time you write a check to the BSA you are turning your back on Ryan. So your kids are not strong enough or have the "epitome" that you so proudly toss out in hailing Ryan to resign or make stand. When do you stand and be counted rather than pay lip service to the injustice.
Lori October 09, 2012 at 05:02 PM
No, Miles, I am not asking Ryan to "take the arrows for our troop". My son is a member of an organization that has provided him with far more good than bad. Every situation and organization has things with which members both agree and disagree. I believe more positive change can be brought about by participating in something and bringing your values to the table than by slamming the door and walking away. I am not that much of a hothead. I prefer to work toward negotiated positive resolution. You're clearly missing the whole point of Ryan's situation if you are suggesting that a bunch of Scouts who are not gay say they are. Ryan chose to be HONEST and OPEN about his situation and take a stand for who he truly is. I admire him for that. History is filled with people who have enacted change that way. That also requires supporters who speak out and support and agree with those people. I am doing just that. My comments are merely putting my opinion on the table.
lovelafayette October 09, 2012 at 05:05 PM
@ Lori and all of you BSA parents who do not support the ban on gays. You talk about "working from within" and "taking a stand." I am not aware that any troop in this council has sent a letter to BSA refusing to abide by the ban (Piedmont, Oakland and MANY other troops have done so if you need a letter to copy). So...just what are you personally doing, and what is your troop doing to "take a stand"? I make it a point to educate EVERY BS that approaches me to buy or donate.I ask them "do you think all boys should be able to join boy scouts." They ALL say yes,I have NEVER had one say NOT gays or athiests. I compliment their answer, and explain that BSA is NOT open to gay boy scouts and that I will not buy wreaths, or donate cans until BSA is like GSA, all comers welcome. Some ask questions (how do you know?), look bewildered, many say they did not know, a few ask what "gay" is (I tell these kids to ask their moms). I HAVE gotten some harsh looks from dads waiting curbside when the BS tells them about the conversation.
Miles VanBuren October 09, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Opinions are like a..holes unfortunately everyone has one!
Chris J Kapsalis October 09, 2012 at 06:22 PM
@ Miles. And you have yours right? Why come to a comment board full of different opinions then say that? Do you also seek out the other?
Lori October 09, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Clearly, Miles, you do as well. I'm not sure how or why I ended up bearing the brunt of your attacks (nor do I really care). I was calmly & rationally speaking out against the ban and the treatment of Ryan as well as noting my admiration for his determination and character. From your comments, it would seem we are on the same page, so why you are lashing out at me is beyond me. But you go ahead and do what you do & I will do what I do. I prefer to speak out against those who think it is ok to prevent Ryan from becoming an Eagle Scout rather than bashing those that are on the same page. Have a nice day.
Lance Howland (Editor) October 09, 2012 at 07:26 PM
Terry: You old snakecharmer, you. You still have a way with words. You ought to get a job in the wordsmith business, you know? -- LDH
Miles VanBuren October 09, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Anyone parent of a child in the BSA that has an opinion on this that supports Ryan and is willing to keep their sons in this organization without taking some active stand other than having an opinion hence the comment I made above that opinions are like ... then you are all hypocrites. Defend the BSA and its discriminatory practices or take action and pull your kid out of this club.
Chris Nicholson October 09, 2012 at 11:46 PM
What a ridiculous framework. Do you belong to any groups that have any policies that you disagree with? Do you vote for candidates that have views you disagree with? Does your employer or its clients/customers benefit from actions/positions you disagree with. Your position is that of the desperate and naive radical: "if you're not with us, you're against us." If you have managed to live your life happy, successful and completely free from hypocrisy, please share your secret.
Lori October 10, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Chris, Thank you for weighing in. Frankly, I am not going to continue to engage with individuals who reduce their level of discussion to name calling and labeling as that is exactly what I was speaking out against in the first place. There are different ways of taking a stand and how I choose to is not going to be dictated by hotheads. People who feel the need to react with extremes are why a situation like this exists to begin with. Tolerance, acceptance, understanding are the things that are missing here. It's unfortunate that more people won't reach out and support Ryan here because they face such hostile commentary. I am unphased, others may not be.
Chris J Kapsalis October 10, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Love it or leave it? What if all the women in the US left when they could not vote?
Chris Nicholson October 10, 2012 at 12:22 AM
@Chris K: If that were the case, we'd have a lot more gay scouts. Just kidding. PS: I accidentally hit the inappropriate flag on your post. Weird that there is no way to "unflag"
Moraga Man October 10, 2012 at 03:31 PM
So Ryan's open statements on Facebook and elsewhere espousing his atheist then agnostic beliefs have no bearing here? How do you know the authorities of the MVPC were not involved in the decision? Was Ryan's father not a member of the MVPC governing body and of the Troop? We don't have the full story from both sides. I don't know how your conclusions can be made and absent fact, I think they are irresponsible.
Moraga Man October 10, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I support the BSA and MVPC. It is a sad statement about the Andresen family. Hard to believe that anyone in our community supports this kind of one-off privileged treatment contrary to long established policies.
Moraga Man October 10, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Ya, lovelafayette, the GSA has the model............that model would include numerous references and requirements regarding the acceptance and normalization of abortion in its program for teenage girls. What a great idea. Let's plant the notion of abortion as birth control in the minds of millions of young girls...........crazy......
Moraga Man October 10, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I would encourage all scouts to stand in protest of of expectations of special treament contrary to long-established policies. I would encourage all parents to remember, it could be your child expecting special treatment. I say to the people that went to National reporting Ryan...........oh whoops, it was Ryan that went public/national, not the troop or MVPC. I would say to anyone who knows who complained about Ryan to Post their names to publicly shame them, just as Chris F. is so bravely doing (oh, wait, what is Chris' last name?). I say to his troop leader that you destroyed a boys dream......oh wait, wasn't Ryan's father the Troop Ctte Chair....oh, nevermind. I applaud the decision of those who have remained in an organization that stands for something and makes its policies well known to parents and boys upon admission. I feel sorry for those people that have been affected by the actions of so few and by those that rant for political correctness but wouldn't think for a minute about sending their 11 yr old son into the wilderness for a week with an openly gay leader. Boy Scouts will go on and fortunately they are losing supporters who demand special treatment along the way.
Lance Howland (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Lovelafayette: I'm sorry. I deleted your comment for using a vulgar (if colorful) expression. Please repost it with an alternate colorful phrase because you made an interesting point. -- Lance Howland, editor
Miles VanBuren October 10, 2012 at 10:38 PM
@Lori, denial is not a river in Egypt! Your son is a member of a discriminatory organization that has traumatized another child. Can you not see the hypocrisy of saying you "feel for Ryan" and that the BSA policy is wrong but yet you are willing to continue to support this organization because the good out weighs against the bad and it is best to work within. Hogwash, Ryan does not need your sympathy he needs your support and that can only happen by pulling your child out of this organization and teach him a lesson that when you see injustice you must take an active stand. If this were a black child being tossed out because of his race would that not wake you up to say I must get my child out of this organization or I am a racist by default. Gay, black, female...are all in the same category and this is no different in my mind as being a racist. Trust me I am not attacking you I am trying to wake you up to understand that discrimination is unacceptable and you can't be on the fence on this issue.
lovelafayette October 10, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Can't get this song out of my head, from the musical "South Pacific". How about singing along if you are old and know the tune. A first, a Patch Hootnanny! You've got to be taught To hate and fear, You've got to be taught From year to year, It's got to be drummed In your dear little ear You've got to be carefully taught. You've got to be taught to be afraid Of people whose eyes are oddly made, And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade, You've got to be carefully taught. You've got to be taught before it's too late, Before you are six or seven or eight, To hate all the people your relatives hate, You've got to be carefully taught! Seems to describe the BS indocrination process starting at age 6. Incredibly effective, it is disturbing that so many Patchers we KNOW are GOOD people have testified, "For my family the good outweighs the bad" or suggesting the path to integrity is denial, "He should have kept quiet until after he got the award." We all teach our kids to "do the right thing", but some of us add, "unless it is inconvenient or involves personal sacrifice".
Chris F. October 18, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Just read this article. Funny how the Boyscouts don't want a gay child but covers up child molesting scout masters! http://news.yahoo.com/perversion-files-show-locals-helped-cover-181647842.html
Peter Allen December 29, 2012 at 08:05 PM
My company used to donate $5000 a year to the local BSA, but this year I decided they would receive nothing. As a result, the BSA in my town has gone belly up and no loger exists. I'm proud to have ruined those bigots!
MIKE ALFORD December 30, 2012 at 02:46 AM
What doesnt make any sence at all ----- WHY are we even talking about Gays In Scouts ? The Scouts are for Children Under the Age Of 18 years of age ! Sence it is Agenst the LAW to have SEX under the Age of 18 years of age (In CALIFORNIA The age Of Consent Is 18 years or older) Now if You Do have sex Girl or Boy And you are under the age of consent (18) than Boy Or Girl and you get Cought Well Than YOU have just Commited A Felony Under California LAW ! So to go along with this way of thinking Well Than you are Condoning Breaking The LAW In CALIFORNIA ! ----- Look Up The Definition Of Homosexualty ---- It refers to being Sexuality attracted or involived Sexually With The SAME Sex ! How ever you put it Boy Scouts And Girl Scouts Are Under The AGE of Consent ! Do You Get It ? Or Are You Condoning Breaking The Laws Of California ?? Look up The law & Defination ------
Chris J Kapsalis December 30, 2012 at 02:58 AM
Someone can declair they are a homosexual before 18 and before ever having sex, just as one could say they are hetrosexual before having sex. Just as they could declair they are a Republican or Deomcrat before 18, even though they cannot legally vote yet. Not saying right or wrong, or if they know what party they will actually be when they can vote, or even if they will vote. One can also be a democrat withotu ever voting. Some Hetrosexuals die without ever having sex, I am sure the same is true with some Gay people. So I don;t think it is about the sex part, but about the being gay part.
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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