NEW YORK, NY, October 5, 2012 - GLAAD today joined more than 150,000 Americans who are calling on the Boy Scouts of America to reverse their decision to deny Ryan, a California teenager, the rank of Eagle Scout after he came out as gay. The Change.org petition was started by Ryan's mother Karen Andresen.
Ryan and his mother released a statement this afternoon addressing the BSA's misinformation.
GLAAD also spoke out against the misinformation that the BSA is spreading about the teen, who has been involved with scouting for more than 12 years.
The Scouts' national spokesman, Deron Smith, wrongfully stated late Thursday to Yahoo! News that Ryan disagreed with the BSA's religious principles and cited that as a reason for denying him the rank of Eagle Scout.
Smith stated yesterday to Yahoo! News: "Recently, a Scout proactively notified his unit leadership and Eagle Scout Counselor that he does not agree to Scouting's principle of "Duty to God" and does not meet Scouting's membership standard on sexual orientation. While the BSA did not proactively ask for this information, based on his statements and after discussion with his family he is being informed that he is no longer eligible for membership in Scouting."
Ryan's mother Karen today corrected these inaccuracies, saying: "The Boy Scouts of America's statement that Ryan does not agree to Scouting's principle of "Duty to God" is inaccurate. Ryan has never said that he does not believe in a higher power, and the only reason he's being denied the rank of Eagle is because the Boy Scouts of America has a problem with Ryan being gay."
GLAAD condemned the BSA's decision to deny Ryan his well-earned honor, as well as the tactics they are using to further denigrate Ryan.
"The BSA is further tarnishing its organization and continuing to hurt American youth by sharing blatant misinformation about a teen they had already rejected," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "We commend Ryan for standing up against bullying and for his dedication to scouting. The BSA needs to end this hurtful discrimination and put the focus back on its scouts."
GLAAD began calling for the Boy Scouts of America to end their ban on gay scouts and scout leaders after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old's Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell's Change.org petition has attracted more than 330,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts' ban on gay Scouts and leaders.
Jennifer also spoke out about Ryan's award. "The BSA is bullying Ryan after he completed every task necessary to achieve this rank. It is an outrage that the BSA maintains their discriminatory stance at the expense of any and all deserving scouts," Tyrrell said.
Ryan, who endured bullying as a teen from fellow Scouts in his troop, recently came out in a letter he sent to members of Troop 212. In the letter, a response to a bullying incident faced by another student in the troop, Ryan talked about the effects that bullying had on him, including depression and self-harm.
Scores of Boy Scout troops and scouting families around the country have urged the organization to change its policies, and a new organization, Scouts For Equality, was founded by Eagle Scout Zach Wahls to mobilize current and former Scouts calling for an end to the ban on gay scouts and leaders.
Business leaders like James Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young, and Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T — both members of the Boy Scouts of America's Board of Directors — have called for a change in Scouts policy. Earlier this month, Intel announced that it would no longer be funding the national BSA organization while the ban is in place.
Last month, President Obama, who serves as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America, publicly opposed the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney also stated his support for gay Americans participating in the Boy Scouts.
Live signature totals from Karen Andresen's campaign:
About GLAAD: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) amplifies the voice of the LGBT community by empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively. By ensuring that the stories of LGBT people are heard through the media, GLAAD promotes understanding, increases acceptance, and advances equality. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.