10/11/2012 05:44 pm ET

Florida Doctor, Andy Zerbinopoulos, Gives His Eagle Scout Award To Gay Teen Ryan Andresen

Earlier this month, Ryan Andresen, a California teen, was denied his Eagle Scout badge because of his sexuality.

When Dr. Andy Zerbinopoulos, a dentist in Jacksonville, Fla., heard about the gay teen's plight, he decided to give his own hard-earned Eagle Scout award to Andresen.

"When I was awarded this medal in 1996, it really meant a lot to me, it was a true sense of achievement," Zerbinopoulos told First Coast News.

“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 metal,” he told the New York Daily News.

Andresen had completed all the tasks necessary to achieve his Eagle Scout award. But when he told his Scoutmaster that he was gay, he was denied the final award. The Boy Scouts of America have a long-standing policy of not allowing openly gay people into the organization.

“It was by far the biggest goal of my life,” Andresen told Yahoo News. “It’s totally devastating.”

Zerbinopoulos isn't the only one to show support for Andresen. Since the story broke last week, hundreds of Eagle Scouts have returned their medals to the Boy Scouts organization. A childhood friend of Andresen's, Matthew Kimball, has started a Facebook page where Boy Scouts can continue to show their support for the teen.

"I'm not ashamed of who I am, he shouldn't be ashamed of who he is," Zerbinopoulos told First Coast News. "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."



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