Boy Scouts Chapter Approves Openly Gay Teen's Eagle Scout Status Despite Opposition from National Organization

Ryan Andresen worked hard for 12 long years to earn his Eagle Scout rank, so he was understandably devastated when his Scoutmaster told him he would not be able to award him the Boy Scouts' highest honor because he was openly gay.

Still, Ryan, who built an anti-bullying "tolerance wall" with schoolchildren as part of his Eagle Scout service project, refused to give up, and launched a Change.org petition with the help of his extremely supportive mother Karen.

"I want everyone to know that [the Eagle award] should be based on accomplishment, not your sexual orientation," Karen told NBC News last year.

Today, after over 460,000 people have signed Ryan's petition, the San Francisco Bay area Boy Scouts chapter that oversees Ryan's troop approved Ryan's Eagle scout application in direct defiance of the national organization's anti-gay exclusion policy.

"It's the first in-your-face (challenge)," Boy Scout district review board chair Bonnie Hazarabedian told Reuters.

Though the national office typically approves district recommendations automatically, the Mount Diablo-Silverado Boy Scout Council expects a fight this time.

"It's gotten to the point that getting the Eagle doesn't matter so much," said Ryan's father Eric, who quit his role as Boy Scout leader after his son was expelled. "It's the message that counts. It's the desire that no other Scout should ever have to go through this."