Council Urges Eagle Rank for Gay Teen

Ryan Andresen, the California teen who spent a decade completing the requirements for the coveted Eagle Scout award then was denied the rank because he's gay, will now have a shot at receiving the highest honor from his local council.

The Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council is "directly challenging" the national organization's ban on gay Scouts and leaders and will recommend Andresen attain Eagle, Reuters reported today.

The recommendation on the application was forwarded to the national organization for review.

"It's the first in-your-face (challenge)," Bonnie Hazarabedian, who chaired the Boy Scout district review board that signed off on Andresen's application, told Reuters.

Phone calls from ABCNews.com to the Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council were not answered.

Andresen's plight became public last year when his mother Karen Andresen, 49, posted a petition on Change.org that has since garnered 450,000 signatures.

"I want other gay Scouts to know, especially those who are hiding who they really are, that this win is for you," said Andresen in a release for the gay advocacy group GLAAD. He is now 18, the cut-off for completing the rank of Eagle. "Thank you to everyone who joined my mom's campaign. I really do have the best parents in the world."

GLAAD is applauding the move, which means the application for Eagle will be forwarded to the Boys Scouts of America for review and perhaps for approval.

"Councils across the nation are rejecting the Boy Scouts' grossly discriminatory ban on gay scouts, echoing the support of fellow scouts, business leaders, and the American public," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick in statement.

"How long can the BSA go on ignoring its own members and its core values of fairness, leadership and integrity?" he asked. "The growing number of councils welcoming gay scouts and leaders reminds BSA autocrats: change will come with you, or without you."

The Boy Scouts of American has said that it does not actively ask the sexual orientation of boys.

But according to national BSA spokesman Deron Smith, neither the local nor national council has given the final approval of the award to Andresen.

"The Eagle application was forwarded, by a volunteer, to the local council but it was not approved because this young man proactively stated that he does not agree to Scouting's principle of 'duty of God' and does not meet Scouting's membership requirements," he said in a statement last fall. "Therefore, he is not eligible to receive the rank of Eagle."

But Karen Andresen told ABCNews.com last fall that her son believes in a "higher power."

"...The only reason he's being denied the rank of Eagle is because the Boy Scouts of America has a problem with Ryan being gay," she said.

His Eagle project, a "tolerance wall," was inspired by the years of hazing he endured in middle school in Moraga, Calif., and later at Boy Scout summer camp, where his nicknames were "Tinkerbell" and "faggot."

The Boy Scouts is one of the largest youth organizations in the country with 2.7 million members and more than 1 million adult volunteers.

Many voices, including individuals within the organization, have opposed the Boy Scouts policy.

AT &T CEO Randall Stephenson, an executive board member of the Boy Scouts of America, has said he was committed to ending the ban. He takes over as president in 2014.

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