By Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
A California couple says their 17-year-old son, who has been a Boy Scout for more than a decade, has met all the qualifications to become an Eagle Scout, but has been blocked by his scoutmaster for the group's highest honor because he is gay.
Ryan Andresen, who recently came out to his friends and family as gay, has completed his final project in his bid to become an Eagle Scout.
It was a "tolerance wall" he built to oppose bullying in school by using tiles illustrated by elementary school students, the San Jose Mercury News says.
The scoutmaster for Troop 212 in Moraga, Calif., told 17-year-old Ryan's father, Eric, the troop's chief administrator, on Sunday that his son wouldn't be able to get the award, NBC News reports.
The Boy Scouts of America have a long-standing policy denying membership to gay leaders and Scouts, which they reaffirmed earlier this year after a two-year confidential review of the controversial ban, NBC News notes.
The newspaper says a statement from John Fenolgio, Scout executive of the Mount Diablo Silverado Council that oversees Ryan's troop, says his bid to become an Eagle Scout falls short of Scouting's standards.
"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," the statement reads. "While the Boy Scouts of America 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 tells NBC News that she thinks "the scoutmaster "is sending Ryan the message that he's not a valued human being, and I want Ryan to know that he is valued ... and that people care about him."
She says she has gotten 70,000 signatures on an online petition on Ryan's case to try to pressure the Scouts to change its policy, the Mercury News reports.