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."