Eagle Scout Matthew Kimball and Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls have ignited a nationwide movement of Boy Scouts willing to give their Eagle Scout pins to support ousted Boy Scout from California, Ryan Andresen, who was told just days before his 18th birthday that he’d be denied his Eagle Scout status because he came out as openly gay during efforts to fight bullying. Kimball, an Eagle Scout and former Scout leader from the same troop as Ryan threw his support behind the Change.org petition started by Ryan’s mother, Karen, and signed by more than 350,000 Americans calling on the Boy Scouts to allow Ryan to earn his Eagle Scout designation. Kimball has now rallied dozens of Eagle Scouts from the troop, who have pledged to give their Eagle pins to Ryan if the troop refuses.
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“My time in scouting was and always will be among my most cherished experiences,” said Kimball. “One’s Eagle ceremony is the crowning affirmation of all those great experiences, lessons, values, and friendships. It haunts me that my friends, people I’ve loved, admired, and respected, people that have been my greatest mentors, would deny Ryan this affirming experience.” Wahls, who co-founded Scouts for Equality earlier this year in an effort to rally Scouts calling for an end to the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policies, said that Karen’s petition and Ryan’s story are galvanizing people around the country, and applying even more pressure on the Boy Scouts to do away with an outdated policy. Ellen DeGeneres wants to hear more about Andresen’s story and has invited him on to her show this Thursday, which is also National Coming Out Day.
Kimball and Wahls will keep collecting Eagle pins from Scouts around the country to give to Ryan. Eagle Scouts who participated in the San Franicsco-based Troop 212 (Ryan’s troop) can pledge their pins through Kimball’s Facebook event. Other Eagle Scouts can submit their Eagle pins to Scouts for Equality, which is currently collecting pins nationwide to be delivered to Ryan.