You may have heard about Ryan Andresen, the scout who completed all requirements for Eagle award while being openly gay, but was denied the rank at the last minute because of the Boy Scouts of America's policy barring gay scouts and leaders.
This all transpired just before Ryan's 18th birthday in early October, at which point he would be no longer eligible to earn Eagle rank in the Boy Scouts of America. To say it outraged many is an understatement. Ryan's story gave us another rallying point to help us focus our voices against their discriminatory policies, with over 400,000 signing the petition for the BSA to give him the award he earned. He even made it on Ellen!
In the immediate news of Ryan's story breaking, I finally decided it was time to send my Eagle award back to the BSA. But I held onto the envelope long enough for the Andresen story to develop, and lo and behold, Scouts for Equality organized a drive for Eagle pins and badges to send to Ryan. So, I modified my BSA letter so they knew where my Eagle pin was going and why, and instead sent my pin to Ryan.
Well, Ryan has now been flooded with Eagle pins and patches sent by other Eagle Scouts who believe he is the perfect example of what an Eagle Scout should be.
Now, Ryan has confirmed receipt of the pin and told us more about what he is trying to do:
I have two wishes that I hope come true out of this process -- one is that the Boy Scouts of America finally changes its policy, following the inclusionary model that is being adopted by Councils across the country. The other is to restore the reputation of Boy Scouts of America in a way that will allow you to once again feel proud of your own Eagle accomplishments.Here is a little more from an email from Ryan's mom, Karen:
As you probably know, I am receiving many pins and patches from scouts not only here in the United States, but from abroad. I am carefully keeping track of each pin's original recipient, with the hope that if we can restore pride in the BSA then maybe many of the donors might be willing to accept their pins back to once again proudly display themselves.
In the meantime, I am working with several individuals in an effort to create a meaningful display of the pins that I receive, something that signifies the incredible support being shown to me, that recognizes the deep feelings of each donor, and that effectively portrays the message that is being sent, through me, to the Boy Scouts of America -- that they learn to recognize the accomplishments of the scout without judgement or discrimination.
He is working with a few people to help him come up with a meaningful way of displaying the pins-like the AIDS Memorial quilt/wall. Another idea is to put the pins on display at the first ever LGBT museum in San Francisco. His teacher at his high school, is a gay Eagle Scout, and is also helping Ryan.... Ryan has set up an address for collecting the pins if anyone is interested:If you, like me, were holding onto your old Eagle Award because of cherished memories, ask yourself whether you can truly feel good about that award when kids like Ryan are being treated so hurtfully by the BSA. I couldn't. And fortunately, Ryan has stepped up to give you a way to both support fairness and a path to getting your Eagle pin back some day.
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