From Jerry Peterson, Facilitator of the Contra Costa LGBTQ Youth Advocacy Collaborative, Rainbow Community Center:
Dear Scoutmaster del Valle,
I am writing to express my concern for both you and Ryan Andresen. I am sure your intentions motivating your response to Ryan's Eagle Scout project are loving and protective, both toward him and with regard to the other boys in the troop. You have promised to protect and serve these young men as well as the national organization you are part of. I'm sure it must be very difficult to reconcile that promise, and perhaps your own personal values and beliefs, with acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) individuals.
While I affirm your efforts to project the boys and values you hold dear, I also want to make you aware that rejection of this magnitude has serious harmful effects on LGBTQ youth. I have attached a report of research conducted by the Family Acceptance Project at San Franciso State University (see the report attached in the media box above). They learned that gay youth living in highly rejecting families are 8.5 times more likely than gay youth from more accepting families to have at least one suicide attempt in their teen to young adult years. Please consider reading this document.
I am not suggesting that you need to change your personal values or beliefs. I am suggesting strongly that you reconsider personal decisions and actions that are potentially very harmful to young men like Ryan. I appeal to your desire to protect young people, and urge you to consider what protection Ryan needs at this point in his life.
If you are willing, I'd like to speak with you about the Family Acceptance Project research. Again, I am not judging your values or beliefs. I simply want to appeal to you to join with many other community leaders across Contra Costa County who are dedicated to protecting ALL youth.
Thanks for reading and considering my request.
Do you agree with this letter? Share your thoughts in the comments.