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Gays in the Scouts: What's Your Opinion?

Does the Novato Boy Scouting community have anything to say about Moraga boy's Eagle Scout project, a 'wall of tolerance' at junior high school?

When Ryan Andresen completed a 288-tile wall of tolerance at Joaquin Moraga Middle School in Moraga last month, he thought he had met the requirements to become an Eagle Scout.

But, according to his mother, the scoutmaster of Ryan's Moraga Boy Scout troop is refusing to sign off on the project because Ryan is gay.

"We are all just in shock," said Ryan's mother, Karen Andresen.

How is the Novato Scouting community reacting to this? In a more general sense, have decisions by the national Scouts leadership done anything to hurt scouting on a local level? Are local scout troops thriving or dwindling?

The Moraga family has a 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.

"It hurts me so much to watch Ryan suffer for being who he is, because to me, he's perfect," Karen Andresen said.

Ryan's father, Eric Andresen, used to do the bookkeeping for Troop 212. He resigned on Tuesday, Karen Andresen said, after Scoutmaster Rainer del Valle reaffirmed his refusal to sign off on Ryan's project.

Ryan's 18th birthday is Oct. 8. The Boy Scouts have a rule that the Eagle Scout project must be approved by the 18th birthday, Karen Andresen said.

She said that Ryan came out to his family two years ago. The idea for the wall of tolerance was a result of the bullying he experienced at school and in the Boy Scouts.

Ryan Andresen hopes to attend the University of San Francisco.

"Many troops around the country are standing up, choosing to reject the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policy," the petition statement by Karen Andresen reads. "I sincerely hope that Ryan's troop — Troop 212 — will become one of them."

The Boy Scouts of America has policies that prohibit "open or avowed" homosexual people from membership
in its Scouting program, as well as atheists and agnostics, according to Wikipedia.

One petition signer from overseas wrote on Change.org said he signed "because I am a member of the Boy Scouts in the UK and discrimination is the very thing we are taught against! Scouts are supposed to HONOUR people with ALL their differences. Not treat them like filth."

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Tea bags for Liberty October 08, 2012 at 09:35 PM
The first amendment is for all of us in the USA...not just liberals...the constitution of the United States is the founding document that is basically the rule book....you can disgree wiht me, but please don't come after me with a pitch fork or any family that participates in Boy Scouting...be tolerant of the religious/traditional values. The constitution protects you, me and Ryan. Ryan's parents can hire lawyers and sue, and run it all the way up the flag pole to the Supreme Court again in legal challenges. I have attached a summary of the ruling below for your input.
Tea bags for Liberty October 08, 2012 at 09:45 PM
On June 7, 2012, a BSA press release stated: The BSA policy is: “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.” Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics. The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path.[34]
Tea bags for Liberty October 08, 2012 at 09:56 PM
The newspaper says a statement from John Fenolgio, Scout executive of the Mount Diablo Silverado Council that oversees Ryan's troop, says his bid to become an Eagle Scout falls short of Scouting's standards. "Recently, 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," the statement reads. "While the Boy Scouts of America 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."
Tea bags for Liberty October 08, 2012 at 09:57 PM
The newspaper says a statement from John Fenolgio, Scout executive of the Mount Diablo Silverado Council that oversees Ryan's troop, says his bid to become an Eagle Scout falls short of Scouting's standards. "Recently, 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," the statement reads. "While the Boy Scouts of America 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."
Claire October 08, 2012 at 09:58 PM
I did not look at the Supreme Court's ruling you mention, but I don't doubt the Supreme Court said what it said and upheld BSA's right to chose who they accept as members of their association. Many people, like myself, have always thought of BSA as a great organization that teaches young boys values, discipline, respect for themselves and for others. I was never aware of their association's practice not to allow gays as members. Now that I was made aware of it because of Ryan's story, I exercise my freedom of association not to associate with this organization or to buy anything they sell, donate clothes to their organization or support any other activity they may plan, because it is hypocritical to say one practices tolerance and acceptance when it is a clear fact they are not. I am glad that despite the Supreme Court's ruling many organizations and individuals who have in the past chosen to support BSA no longer do so for these very same reasons. I hope it hurts them financially, because if it does, they may think about it. This indeed is a great Country where we all have choices and we don't have to live by a Supreme Court ruling if we believe it is wrong. It is similar to one's choice not to eat at Chick-fil-A and contribute to their open support of anti-gay rights groups.
Claire October 08, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Did Ryan or his family ask that his same-sex orientation be 'introduced' or discussed while attending BSA events? How exactly was Ryan a 'distraction to the mission of the BSA'? He seems like a fine young man to me with a strong will to belong to the BSA and complete his final project. Maybe BSA believes that keeping away the topic of same-sex attraction makes it non-existent and their children won't be exposed to 'this horrible truth', as if they wouldn't be exposed to it elsewhere? They also probably believe that preaching abstinence from sex will prevent their kids from having sex or from even knowing what sex is - dream on!
Tea bags for Liberty October 08, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Claire - Acceptance - And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation - some fact of my life - unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes....God Bless....you pray for me and I pray for you. I will not engage in name calling and hate speech as you have described above.
Claire October 08, 2012 at 11:05 PM
If nothing in God's world happens by mistake, as you say, then why did he create gays that he himself apparently cannot accept? Perhaps YOU think God doesn't accpet gays, but maybe it isn't God who doesn't, but perhaps it is simply you. Or perhaps God purposely created gays to test your ability to practice acceptance and 'love thy neighbour as thyself'?
Nanette Brichetto October 09, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Rules are rules, and I believe organizations have the right to discriminate if they choose to do so. However, each troop should have the opportunity to make a special exception if they so choose. What a perfect opportunity to let the boys decide for themselves if they want to bend the rules for Ryan. Let the boys vote (on a private ballot) so as not to force individuals to go along with the majority, whether or not to let Ryan continue his membership. I think it should be unanimous because bending the rules should not cause another to leave the troop. Again, please respect the organization's rules and bylaws as Ryan had to have known his outing himself may effect his membership. Since this is in CA and we all know how open minded and tolerant Californians are (unless of course, you're a Catholic, or a Republican). This will allow the Boys to learn the values of our Republic and their individual votes. So let the boys speak through their votes and be done with it.
Claire October 09, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Per se I think it would be a good idea to let the boys vote. But what if even one of them says he is against Ryan? Wouldn't that be another big humiliation for Ryan after what he has already endured and feel like yet another 'punishment' for being gay? Often children are indoctrinated with their parents' beliefs and if the parents are anti-gay, homophobic, Catholic or Republican, the kids are likely to second those beliefs, particularly at a certain age when they strive to please their parents. I would find it very surprising if there would ever be an unanimous vote for Ryan by the troop. If such a vote took place, there should be a majority requirement, not a unanimous vote requirement. That would be a democratic approach to the matter, even if some members don't like it. Or is the only reason they are in BSA BECAUSE of their exclusion of gays and they feel 'protected' from having their children exposed to homosexuality? If so, why bother?
Tea bags for Liberty October 09, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Amendment I Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, orof the press; or the right of th people peacebly to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The "Hate" coming from the left here has no constitutional grounds. People like Claire scare me...Are you ready to round up the conservatives and put them in camps? Government Power in the hands of one party like the liberal democrats in California leads to tryanical views. Liberty...respect peoples differences....please accept that there are conservatives who make up 25% of Marin County....we are a minority and we have rights just like every other protected class.
Claire October 10, 2012 at 05:20 PM
What do 'conservatives' do if they have gay children? Although I haven't taken any specific statistics on whether the incidence of homosexuality is lower in conservatives than in liberals, I must assume it is not. According to statistics, it is roughly 10% of the population. So would a conservative try to get his gay child into BSA and hope it never comes out? Would they try to get him/her into a program to change their sexual orientation (by the way - Governor Brown just enacted a law that that is unconstitutional)? Would they expect their child to live in the closet for the rest of their lives? Would they deny that child? It is not a matter of being liberal or conservative when it comes to accepting homosexuality - it is a matter of humanity whether you accept people for who they are, particularly children. And - no - I definitely don't want to lock you up in any camps - I wouldn't know what to do with you. I just don't want to be part of your hypocrisy.
Nanette Brichetto October 10, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Claire - you clearly missed my sarcasm regarding the open mindedness and tolerance of liberals. It is those very liberals who claim to be tolerant, but demonstrate daily that they are anything but. They are the ones who HATE anyone who disagrees with their agenda, hence my mentioning Conservatives and Catholics. The reason a unanimous vote is required by the boys in Ryan's scouting troop is because Ryan is the one who has jeopardized his membership when he outed himself. If the other boys are not comfortable with that, then he's the one who has to leave. I'll repeat… rules are rules and organizations have a right to discriminate. He is the one who is asking for the rules to be broken and it should not cause any grief for his fellow scouts. BTW - Conservatives DO NOT hate gays and YES, they too have children who are openly gay. Did you somehow miss the fact that Dick Chaney's daughter is a lesbian? Talk about being in the closet - you should get out more often.
Claire October 10, 2012 at 09:59 PM
Nanette - I truly could care less about the BSA and what rules they have. As far as I go, they can exclude blonds, brunettes, blacks, gays, mentally disabled people or whoever they want, as long as kids are not humiliated. You said Ryan 'jeopardized his membership when he outed himself'. So he would have been better off being a hypcrite, a liar, misleading his surroundings about his true self. If, as a Christian, liberal, conservative or simply as a human being that is a viable solution for any person with even a touch of integrity, I am happy I don't know you. Likely Ryan joined BSA when he was 6 or 7. I doubt he then knew about his sexual orientation. As he got older, he had to either stand up for who he is and get punished for it by loosing all the years he has has spent as a dedicated member of BSA or he had to continue to lie to people and get rewarded? What kind of christianity and morality is that? If Dick Cheney was so open to support gays, why didn't he ever mention it when he should have? In a statement he said that if he would have revealed he was in favor of gay marriage during the 2000 campaign, it would have sank the GOP campaign. So he too had to lie and he chose to do just that. He also stated that the reason he did not attend his daughter's wedding was because he wanted to 'avoid the media circus' - what a joke! Maybe you should go out a little more often, but not only in your little town, at least try to make it as far as San Francisco.
Nanette Brichetto October 11, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Claire - If Eagle Scouting was so important to Ryan, he only needed to wait until he achieved his goal before coming out. I was not suggesting that he live his entire life in the closet. In real life, things are not always exactly as we want them to be. We all learn the value of keeping some things to ourselves, as well as the empowerment of standing up for ourselves. Timing is everything. As I mentioned earlier, he knew the rules and therefore knew the consequences. Keeping your sexuality to yourself in High School is along stretch from being a hypocrite or a liar.
Claire October 11, 2012 at 04:54 PM
I don't know if you have any children, but having children myself, I know that being a teenager is not an easy time. It must be even more difficult and confusing for someone like Ryan who is figuring out that he is 'different'. It is a time when they find out who they are and make important decisions as to how they fit in. Ryan apparently came out when he was 16, which means he spent another 2 years in BSA, openly gay. Why wasn't he expelled then? Why was he allowed to go on for another 2 years? Was it because of the nature of his final project, an anti-bullying wall which may have put the scout master in a position to talk about the birds and the bees, or did he simply want to rub it in?? Also, the fact he had dedicated many many years to this organization way before he knew about his own sexual orientation, and then being treated like a lesser human being, rules or not, is cruel, heartless and un-Christian.
Nanette Brichetto October 11, 2012 at 06:38 PM
You certainly have a lot of questions. I cannot answer for the BSA. I had simply suggested that if Ryan's troop wanted to make a unanimous decision to keep him, that that was the only way I could justify bending those rules. Life has it's ups and downs and I've had many gay friends and acquaintances who have seen vast improvements in their quality of lives and their acceptance by peers, workplaces and families. This is a good thing and we all hope it will continue to improve. What I do suggest is that we all realize how lucky we are to be American's. We can argue and debate these issues without dire consequences. Just imagine what Ryan would face in other parts of the world. Let's all pray for Malala Yousufzai, the 14 year old Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban. They want her dead for simply wanting an education. I think this puts our troubles into perspective. And Claire, I'm willing to bet that you and I have far more in common, than not.
Claire October 11, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Nanette - thank you for your post and maybe we do have some things in common. You did propose to see if the entire troup would make the decision to keep Ryan and although I think it is unlikely a unanimous vote ever happen, it may be a start. Sadly you are right in that in other parts of the world it would be even more difficult for Ryan and Malala, but in the meantime we live here and we need to do the best we can to accept each other's differences and to just let people live their lives without discriminating. It is about time that the quality of life is getting better for the LGBT community, because despite what some people believe, it has always been here, except nobody spoke about it. In the last 10 years things have changed dramatically and that is a good thing. When even people like Cheney can finally find the compassion to stand up and do the right thing, we are making progress, even though I realize he only did it because his own child was concerned and he could no longer keep it quiet. When I hear that young people like Ryan commit suicide because they are bullied, sad and desperate and find no other way out, I strongly believe we have to do everything we can to be compassionate human beings instead of casting stones, particularly an organization like the BSA, since they hold themselves to such 'high' moral standards. As I said earlier, it shouldn't have to do with being liberal or conservative, but simply with compassion and acting like human beings.
Claire October 15, 2012 at 05:44 PM
While going to a couple of stores over this past weekend, I saw that they Boy Scouts were out there selling their popcorn. One little boy, about 6 or 7 years old, so cute and polite, came up to me and asked me if I wanted to buy something. I told him "I am sorry sweetie, but I can't". Then I went up to the woman who was supervising the kids and told her that as long as BSA could not accept people like Ryan I could not contribute to it any longer. She was very apologetic and told me it wasn't her fault which I reassured her I didn't think it was. I simply asked her to convey my message to the heads of BSA to make them aware that people can make a choice not to support them - just as they do when discriminating against Ryan. I hope that all of you who agree with me will buy your popcorn somewhere else, because the adorable little boy who asked me to buy something could be another Ryan.
Nanette Brichetto October 15, 2012 at 06:35 PM
So you're taking out your frustrations on 6 and 7 year olds - Really? And you think I'm a bad person? You're encouraging others to do the same? I guess we don't have much in common after all. Shame on you and anyone who puts these young kids in the middle of an adult debate. Those young kids are not the policy makers, nor do they understand the issues. Obviously, if you can't have your way, then everyone is screwed? GROW UP! If you don't want the popcorn, then don't buy it, but for goodness sake, let's NOT resort to punishing the youngsters. If you have an issue, then start a petition, write a letter, anything but getting smarmy with the local kids and their supervisors.
Nanette Brichetto October 15, 2012 at 07:09 PM
BTW - if anyone sees the boy scouts selling popcorn, or knows where they'll be in upcoming days, please post it here and let us ALL know so we can start a BUYCOTT.
Nanette Brichetto October 15, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Claire - Here's the latest story on Ryan. Turns out his Mother has a petition with a significant number of signatures. The url for the story about Ryan's 20k scholarship from Ellen is at the bottom of this comment. I'm sure if you do a little research on your own, you can figure out where to sign the petition, or you can find something positive you can do to enact change from the BSA administration, rather than scaring the local kids and their Mom's. http://blog.sfgate.com/stew/2012/10/12/moraga-gay-boy-scout-on-ellen/
Tea bags for Liberty October 15, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Claire- Please respect the Constitution of the United States...again the liberals have no regard for private property or the right to bear arms, no understanding of the first admendment. And wiil allow freedom of speech only when it serves their purpose. Schools are doing plenty with bill SB48 sponsored by Leno to promote the liberal gay agenda. The gay agenda is alive and well in soical studies and parents can't even opt out on moral or religious grounds! Leno is the gay "Bully" for forcing this on us. More on SB48 indoctrination policy....this is just like Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia! Even if I was gay....I would be against this based on consitutional grounds. Critics say SB 48 hijacks history class to promote a gay agenda. "In the past, history taught about what people did, what they accomplished," says Brad Dacus, head of the Pacific Justice Institute. "It didn't focus on their sexuality and what they did in the bedroom. Yet that is what this legislation will impose on every public school in the state of California dealing with heterosexuality, homosexual role models, transgender role models, all the way down to the kindergarten level." Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/07/14/calif-gov-signs-landmark-law-to-teach-gay-history/#ixzz29P2DkNG7 Why don't you pracitce some tolerance and take a law class to understand how the constitution works. Link below: http://constitution.hillsdale.edu/ God Bless!
Claire October 15, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Perhaps you misread my comment. I told the 6 year "sorry, sweetie, I can't" and then I told the adult who was there, WITHOUT the 6 year old being involved, that once they could accept Ryan, I would support them again, which I used to do. The way I said it, even if the 6 year old would have heard me, I made sure to say it so only the adult would understand - I would never take this out on the kids. Also, contrary to your attack on me, I expressed my opinion in a calm, civilized manner, acknowledging it wasn't the woman's fault who was there, but I felt strongly about expressing my opinion and to please pass it on to her leaders - I seriously doubt I scared her. Also, I did not seek them out to make a bad comment and if I had to purposely walk up to their table to purchase something, you may have a point, but since the kids stand right in front of the door to the stores and one has no way of avoiding them or keeping them from asking people to buy their goods, then it is nothing but right for me to politely express my opinion, which is exactly what I did - they are actively soliciting my business and if they don't want to hear it, too bad. I assure you I did not take it out on the kids, or put them in the middle of an adult debate, but it is important that people who are directly involved in BSA hear from people. As I said, maybe the very woman I spoke to has a child named Ryan, even though she may not realize it yet if he is 6 years old - hopefully it made her reflect.
Tea bags for Liberty October 15, 2012 at 10:21 PM
here is the opt out form, my understanding is that it doesn't cover social studies and that is why Leno pushed the biil SB48 under that part of the law so parents can't opt out of gender training. http://www.pacificjustice.org/uploads/1/3/1/7/13178056/excuse_of_pupil_for_objectionable_education.pdf
Sara October 15, 2012 at 10:43 PM
This same argument is used to attempt to prohibit two legal adults from entering into a civil marriage contract based on their not being considered qualified for a religious sacrament that happens to go by the same name. Do you truly not see the irony?
Sara October 15, 2012 at 10:47 PM
I know this one! Pick me! Pick me! A: They train the child since birth to be so ashamed that it isn't until some point in adulthood that biology and truth are able, through much pain, to break through and allow the person to live an honest life of love and happiness. Biology is so...inconvenient that they choose to instead describe it as a, "lifestyle choice", and a very shameful one at that. The entire system rewards belief in things which can not be substantiated with fact; so much so that the more outrageous the claim, the higher the piousness of the believer.
Sara October 15, 2012 at 10:50 PM
"Just following orders", eh? But is *is* her decision to stand out there and appear to fully support the BSA and all that it stands for...
Sara October 15, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I'm guessing you also don't want them mentioning that George Carver Washington was black...What about Harriet Tubman? Can they include her in the history classes? What is so wrong about teaching kids the entire story, such as when the US put California citizens in internment camps because their ancestors came from Japan, or that the father of modern computing and the breaker of the Nazi Enigma machine after the war was prosecuted for being gay and had the very sanctity of his body violated by the state until he committed suicide? Not all history is white, male, euro-christian history here in America. But all of it needs to be told, in addition to the white male european Christian history. Including the stories of people in the old west like Charley Parker, or how the Nazis burned the Hirschfeld Institute in Berlin because it dared to record LGBT history.
Carol October 19, 2012 at 06:45 PM
WOW - so let me get this straight. One ignorant adult makes a really stupid decision in his scout troop - by forcing his EGO into a process wrongly, and everyone in Novato wants to tell little kids that they WILL NOT buy popcorn or support their fundraising efforts to run a program that promotes citizenship, leadership, community service (just to name a few of the many positive attributes to the program). IMHO the discussion of sexual preference does not belong ANYWHERE in the program. The program should always continue to focus on strong youth development. I'd rather these boys are in organized positive community focused programs than home playing video games or running around town unsupervised - we all see those stories in the patch police logs... Let's put this into prospective, folks. National BSA is the rule maker and they are out in Texas. That's where to focus your political agendas - not outside stores with little kids learning to communication skills by asking for support by selling their pop corn. Supporting our local youth does not mean you support that jerk in Moraga. Pulling funding from our kids selling popcorn just hurts us locally...if that's your intent, than by all means, go bully those little kids. I do not condone what that man did - I can't even call him a leader - his behavior is so disappointing to me...but please, do not take it out on our kids here in Novato. They have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with what that jerk did.

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