US: Gay boy scout hopeful for national change after vote on anti-gay policy

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The family of a Californian teenage boy scout who was denied the Eagle Scout award because he was openly gay, has welcomed an upcoming vote by the Boy Scouts of America’s board, on whether to drop a national ban on gay members, volunteers and staff.

In July 2012, after a two year review, the Boy Scouts of America announced it would retain its ban on gay members, volunteers and staff.

It was reported on Monday that the vote, expected next week, could give individual scout troops the freedom to welcome gay scouts.

BSA national leaders said they were “actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay Scouts or Scout leaders.”

The new policy “would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay Scouts.”

“This was a big surprise,” said Eric Andresen, whose son, Ryan was denied the Eagle Scout award because he was openly gay, reports NBC.

He continued: “But it’s a welcome surprise. This is a baby step, though. I hope they don’t think that they can dodge the whole bullet on this one with just this step.”

Ryan Andresen, 18, from Moraga, California, joined the scouts when he was six, had completed all of the requirements for the Eagle Scout Badge, which included building a 288-tile “tolerance wall” for victims of bullying, such as himself.

After appearing as a guest on the Ellen Degeneres Show, the 18-year-old Boy Scout was awarded a $20,000 (£12,476) scholarship towards his college fees.

Ryan Andresen was also recognised by Assembly Speaker, John Perez, who is openly gay himself, at the California state Assembly. 

The gay teenager was denied the highest Boy Scouts honour, the Eagle Scout badge, by the national Boy Scouts of America organisation, despite a recommendation for approval from a review board at his local council, and a 460,000 strong petition in his favour.

The Boy Scouts have lost funding from several large corporate donors over the policy, including UPS, back in November, who had given over $150,000 (£95,000), Intel, another of the scouts’ largest donors, ceased funding back in September, and the Merck Foundation in December.