In a surprise move, a California chapter of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) approved gay scout Ryan Andresen’s Eagle badge application. The move is a direct challenge to the BSA’s national ban on gay scouts and leaders.
Last year, Andresen was denied his Eagle status because of his sexual orientation. This came as shock to him and his family even though he had completed all the requirements necessary for the award.
Following the news, Karen Andresen (Ryan’s mom) started a petition on Change.org. The petition quickly drew the attention of GLAAD, Scouts for Equality, national media as well as over 460,000 signatures. (BuzzFeed sat down with the former-boy scout to discuss what it was like to be denied the award.)
“I don’t think sexual orientation should enter into why a Scout is a Scout, or whether they are Eagle material,” Bonnie Hazarabedian, a district review board member that signed off on Andresen’s application, told Reuters. “We felt without a doubt he deserved that rank.”
Now that the Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council approved his application, it will be forwarded to the national board for final review.
“I want other gay Scouts to know, especially those who are hiding who they really are, that this win is for you,” said Ryan Andresen after learning of the news.