Gay Scout to be honored Monday by Assembly

California Assembly Speaker John Perez will recognize and honor Ryan Andresen – the East Bay Boy Scout who was denied his Eagle rank because he’s gay – at the new Assembly’s opening session Monday in Sacramento.

Andresen, now 18, of Moraga, and his parents also are scheduled to meet with supporters including Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The Boy Scouts of America this summer re-affirmed its national policy of barring openly gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from leadership. Andresen came out as gay, and though he had participated in Scouting for 12 years and satisfied all of the many requirements to attain its highest rank, Troop 212′s leaders denied him his Eagle award. The local council subsequently kicked him out of Scouting entirely.

His mother, Karen Andresen, started a Change.org petition which has been signed by almost 428,000 people urging the troop’s leaders to ignore BSA’s policy and give Andresen the award he earned.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    After the middle school sex scandal, Moraga should back the kid.

  • John W

    Good move. The Scouts have every legal right to have their policy, but the rest of us don’t need to agree with it.

    I never came close to making Eagle, but my dad, nephew and brother-in-law did. I know how hard they worked for it, and how proud they were, and how much they would respect any kid who did what it took to get all the merit badges and meet the other requirements.

    My scouting days were in a very small farming and railroad town in rural and politically & socially conservative western Kansas, population 5,000. Our troop meetings were in the basement of the Methodist church. I remember one kid who everybody kind of knew was gay, even if we didn’t have a proper word for it then. To be honest, people made jokes behind his back. But nobody ever suggested he should be kicked out. I hate to put down anybody’s religion, but the current insistence on excluding gays reflects the strong influence that the Mormon church has gained in the Boy Scouts of America membership and leadership.

  • JAFO

    Libs can always be counted on to demand that individuals’ and organizations’ rights and views are protected, even applauded, so long as they’re consistent with what they deem to be politically correct. Yet, that protective line is firmly drawn at individual or organizational rights or views with which they disagree. Those must be condemned, often shouted down, and ideally, made illegal. I have absolutely no problem with gay scouts or scout leaders. I do have a problem with self-rightous, thought police, do-gooders who seek to change the values and beliefs of private organizations like the BSA.

  • steve weir

    John, I was that kid in the 1950’s, and I did not know that everyone knew until I came out in 1994. No big deal. Folks were kind enough to wait until it was right for me. Amazingly liberating. For me and for all concerned.

  • Bruce R, Peterson, Lafayette

    Ryan Andersen’s art in Moraga is one of several on the walls @ the School. Others have custom made tiles. Tolerance is their theme. The words are religious in a way, but not the kind of religion that scares people.

  • Dan

    @John W – The Mormon church has distanced itself slowly from BSA for years because of its controversial policies surrounding gay scouts.
    Eventually the church will phase out the scout program entirely.

  • John W

    Re Dan Says,

    I’ll take your word for it, but the last info I saw on this was a story earlier this year in the Christian Science Monitor. It reported that, although Mormons are roughly 2% of the total population, they are 12% of Scouts. More importantly, according to the story, the church sponsors 23% of all Boy Scout troops. The story also said that the church requires Boy Scout participation by members of it’s youth ministry.

    The idea of the church pulling back from the Scouts due to the controversy regarding gay scouts seems incongruent with the church diving right into the thick of the Prop. 8 campaign in California. The mother of a former business associate of mine in Salt Lake personally donated $100 thousand to the Prop. 8 campaign, somewhat to the chagrin of her Mormon but more pragmatic businessmen son and husband. Of course, she was only one of tens of thousands of Mormons mobilized by the church to pass Prop. 8.

    I’m not arguing about the right of the BSA to discriminate or the right of the church to support discrimination in either scouting or other issues. I was just pointing out that the strong stance against gays by BSA is a change from the distant past. And the growth of Mormon involvement in the Scouts seems to account for that change.

  • Sharon Judd