“It hurts me so much to watch Ryan suffer for being who he is, because to me, he’s perfect,” says the mother of Ryan Andresen, who was denied the Boy Scouts’ highest honour simply because he’s gay.
Andresen began in Scouts when he was just six, and the experiences he’s had as part of the organisation have meant so much to him. On his way to university soon, he believes his years of service and hard work doing various skill-building activities meant he was clearly ready to be acknowledged with the Scouts’ highest honour – an Eagle Scout Badge.
Indeed, he’d done everything necessary to get the special award, but the old-fashioned organisation leaned towards homophobia and refused to grant the openly gay student, now 18, the prize he deserved. Instead, his scouting membership was revoked.
A spokesperson for Boy Scouts of America made clear that Andresen “does not agree to scouting’s principle of ‘Duty to God’ and does not meet Scouting’s membership standard on sexual orientation.”
So his mum Karen started a campaign which has now seen over 400,000 people sign an online petition. “Many troops around the country are standing up, choosing to reject the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policy,” she points out. “I sincerely hope that Ryan’s troop will become one of them. And with your help, they just might.”
“Ryan has worked for nearly 12 years to become an Eagle Scout, and nothing would make him more proud than earning that well-deserved distinction. I hope that if enough people come together, we can convince my son’s troop leaders to help him feel proud of who he is and all he’s accomplished.”
Hearing about the injustice, Ellen DeGeneres was keen to meet Andresen, who appeared on her show and told her that lots of former Scouts are now generously gifting him their Eagle Scout Badge.
Then Ellen surprised the determined young man with her own special gift…
Take a took at Ryan Andresen’s appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres Show below.