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Local Eagle Scout gives his award to teen denied the honor

10:35 PM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Boy Scouts of America have a long-standing policy not to allow openly gay members to be a part of the organization.

But after they denied the highest honor in the scouts to a young man in California after he came out as gay to his troop, a former local boy scout decided to take action.

"This has been on my desk for the last 15-16 years," said Dr. Andy Zerbinopoulos.

The Eagle Scout badge is a reminder of the hard work it took for him to get where he is today.

A dentist with his own practice in Jacksonville, he says earning it at 17 was a big deal.

"When I was awarded this medal in 1996, it really meant a lot to me, it was a true sense of achievement," he said.

Which is why he can't understand why Ryan Andresen is being denied the same thing.

The 17-year-old completed every task necessary to get his Eagle Scout award, but his scoutmaster in San Fransisco, California is refusing to sign off on it, because he's gay.

So if he can't get one of his own, Zerbinopoulos is going to send him his.

"If I can make him feel like he has some support out there, it's worth it to me to send him a piece of medal," he said.

Hundreds of Eagle Scouts have returned their awards to the organization because of their stance against homosexuality, but Zerbinopoulos thinks Andresen deserves the award, and a hand for being true to himself.

"I'm not ashamed of who I am, he shouldn't be ashamed of who he is. And even though it isn't the same as receiving the award that he earned, I want him to know that there are people out there who support him," he said.

First Coast News

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