MORAGA -- An online campaign to allow a gay Boy Scout to be given his Eagle Scout rank despite being told his recent admission goes against Scouting's principles has gained steam, with an online petition having racked up more than 250,000 signatures as of late Friday.
Ryan Andresen -- who turns 18 next week -- is also no longer a Boy Scout. John Fenoglio, executive director of the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council, reaffirmed Friday that Andresen's membership with the organization has been revoked.
Andresen, a senior at Maybeck High School in Berkeley, was informed recently he would not be able to become an Eagle Scout. In a statement, Fenoglio said simply that a Scout had notified his unit leadership and Eagle Scout counselor that he did not agree with Scouting's principle of "Duty to God" and does not meet the organization's "standard of sexual orientation." The statement also said the youth was being informed that he was no longer eligible for membership in Scouting.
Ryan's mother, Karen Andresen, started an online petition on Change.org Tuesday demanding that her son be allowed to achieve the Eagle standing -- something he has been working toward since joining the Scouts at age 6.
Fenoglio called Ryan's parents Thursday to let them know their son was no longer a Boy Scout.
Ryan Andresen could not be reached for comment Friday. His father, Eric Andresen, wrote in an e-mail that his son will appear on a national show next week and that the family is not granting interviews before then.
In the online petition, Karen Andresen writes that Ryan was denied his Eagle standing by Troop 212 despite fulfilling the necessary requirements. She wrote that her son has worked 12 years to become an Eagle Scout and that nothing would make him more proud than to earn the distinction.
In a statement Friday, Karen Andresen said her son "never said that he does not believe in a higher power."
She also described his final project for earning the designation. Ryan created a "Tolerance Wall" comprising 288 tiles colorfully decorated with messages of acceptance and encouragement written by students, administrators and staff of Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School, which Ryan attended from grades six to eight.
Ryan received the Eagle Scout news after installing the mural Sept. 22, said Joaquin Moraga Principal Joan Danilson. She said the teen "had a hard time with bullying" while a student there, and approached her with the proposal several weeks ago. Danilson thought it was a perfect project for the school and district, which recently adopted a new anti-bullying policy.
"He wanted to come back and give that message of tolerance," she said.
Danilson and Assistant Principal Brad Carn say they are shocked by the Boy Scouts' decision. "I feel like we stepped so far back from we were with tolerance and diversity," Danilson said.
The Rev. Will McGarvey, a Presbyterian pastor and board president of the Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County, which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth, was troubled by the Boy Scouts' actions. The center has posted a letter to the Troop 212 Scoutmaster on its website and Facebook page talking about the harmful effects of rejection on LGBTQ young people. In a Friday interview, he questioned how an organization known for its ideals of honesty, character and truth could take such action against any young person.
"To just spurn them when they're reaching their goals ... it doesn't seem consistent to me," McGarvey said.
Boy Scouts of America leadership reaffirmed the organization's long-standing ban on participation by gays and lesbians in July. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the group's right to have the ban in 2000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.