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Ovation: Ryan Andreson and Andy Zerbinopoulos – Eagle Scouts To Admire.


It’s no longer news that, last July, after a confidential two-year review and despite at least one board members stand, the Boy Scouts of America enthusiastically reaffirmed its policy of excluding both gay youth and gay troop leaders from participation.  As a private organization, they are well within their rights to do so.  But just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean that you SHOULD do something.

Earlier this month, California high-schooler Ryan Andreson was denied his Eagle Scout badge because of his sexuality.  Ryan entered Scouts when he was six years old, a time in his life when he had no idea what his sexuality might or might not be, and worked diligently alongside his peers to accomplish many Scouting goals.  Upon learning that their 17-year-old son would be denied the honor that he had worked so hard to achieve, his parents were outraged and his father resigned as assistant Scoutmaster.

“I want everyone to know that [the Eagle award] should be based on accomplishment, not your sexual orientation … I think right now the Scoutmaster is sending Ryan the message that he’s not a valued human being and I want Ryan to know that he is valued … and that people care about him.” – Karen Andresen, Ryan’s Mother.

Ryan’s mother is right.  People care about him.  When Dr. Andy Zerbinopoulos, a dentist in Jacksonville, Florida, learned about Ryan’s situation, he decided to give him his own hard-earned Eagle Scout award.

Zerbinopoulos isn’t the only one to show support for Andresen.  Since last July’s announcement, hundreds of Eagle Scouts have returned their medals to the Boy Scouts organization.  It seems that many Eagle Scouts, despite the hard work required to obtain the status, no longer wish to be associated with the organization because of their unyielding stand on this issue.

“I’m not ashamed of who I am, he shouldn’t be ashamed of who he is.  And even though it isn’t the same as receiving the award that he earned, I want him to know that there are people out there who support him.” Dr. Andy Zerbinopoulos, Eagle Scout

I admire both of these Scouts.  I find the fact that Anderson didn’t officially receive the award because he was honest about his sexuality to be ironic.  I also think it was incredibly generous of Zerbinopoulos to give his hard-earned award away.  I find honesty and generosity to be desirable qualities in anyone … regardless of who they love.

UPDATE 11/16/12Senator Barbara Boxer, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Ellen DeGeneres, Anderson Cooper and 33 California state lawmakers support Andresen.

UPDATE 01/08/13A California chapter of BSA is directly challenging the organization’s ban on gays by formally recommending that Ryan Andresen be awarded the top rank of Eagle.

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From → Ovations

One Comment
  1. Ryan- My son’s birthday was a couple of days ago, so completing eagle requirements has been a big issue with us, too. If you have all the signatures for your proposal on page 10, and your beneficiary has signed off that the project is complete, You can go around your leader. Look at the last page of your eagle workbook- It tells you how to move forward and request a board of review , or even a disputed board of review if you don’t have your leader’s approval. I would first go to your Council or District Project Approval Representative, and see if they will help you find another leader to sign off on your project. They cannot ask you about your sexual orientation. So if you really want the Eagle award because you earned it, you can probably still get it. If you are out to make a huge political statement- then you may be in a difficult spot. It’s up to you. My son is really concerned for you- It’s a lot of hard work to go unrewarded… We both wish you luck!


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