03/21/2013 03:00 pm ET Updated Mar 21, 2013

Boy Scouts Gay Ban Publicly Challenged By California Council (VIDEO)

A San Francisco Bay Area Boy Scout council has become the first in the nation to publicly denounce the organization's ban on openly gay members.

The Mount Diablo-Silverado Council conducted a survey of thousands of adult members about homosexuality in the organization. The results showed that 65 percent of respondents and 81 percent of current Scouts favored dropping the ban.

In the council newsletter, Scout Executive John Fenoglio vowed to use the results to push back on the national ban.

"It was not just the data that was so compelling; many of the responses got to the heart of the issue," wrote Scout Executive John Fenoglio in the council newsletter. "As an example, respondent number 104: 'We are so proud of everything scouting does for our sons and our community, but we are so ashamed of the national anti-gay policy. Please change the national policy, so that we do not have to apologize to our friends and family that our son is an Eagle Scout.'"

The Mount Diablo-Silverado Council is the same council that last year denied Ryan Andresen an Eagle Scout badge because he is openly gay. Andresen's mother launched a petition against Fenoglio and the council, gathering nearly 500,000 signatures. A year later, an official Eagle Board of Review overturned the decision, approving the badge despite national guidelines.

"After months of rejection under the Boy Scouts of America's hurtful anti-gay policy, it's certainly encouraging to see an overwhelming majority of our Scouting community standing with Ryan," said Eric Andresen, Ryan's father, to the San Jose Mercury News. "I truly hope that these are more than just words on paper, and that the Mt. Diablo-Silverado Council makes sure their membership is heard at the National Council Meeting this May."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated that the Mount Diablo-Silverado Council survey was distributed to over one million current Boy Scouts of America members. The survey was actually distributed to 5,000 active members. The Boy Scouts of America is conducting a similar study nationwide that has been distributed to over one million members, and is currently being completed. For more information on the national study, see the video below.



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