Earning the right to be called an Eagle Scout ranks among life's most cherished achievements for countless men. But now, more than 100 Eagles have renounced their precious red, white and blue medals to protest the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay and lesbian members.
"With sadness for the loss of the good things – I respectfully return my badge and ask that the BSA consider the opinions of the more than 10,000 other Eagle Scouts who have now done the same," wrote Ray Myers on a Tumblr site called Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges.
Protesters have posted letters and photos of their Eagle badges and medals that they've sent to Robert Mazzuca, chief scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America.
The Boy Scout national headquarters said it doesn't have an exact count of medals returned recently. "But we have received a few," wrote BSA spokesman Deron Smith in an e-mail to CNN. "Although we are disappointed to learn of anyone who feels compelled to return his Eagle rank, we respect their right to express an opinion. While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one position or policy."
Myers' figure of 10,000 Eagle Scouts who've sent letters of protest can't be confirmed, but Smith said the number is closer to that reported by the site – 105 as of Friday.
Like many others who posted on the Tumblr site, David Peck, 33, of Vernon Hills, Illinois, described his decision to renounce his Eagle honor as "heartbreaking."
"Children need leaders to look up to and depriving these kids of potentially great ones because of the adult’s sexual orientation is wrong," Peck wrote.
Related story: Obama disagrees with BSA gay ban
It's not easy to become an Eagle Scout. Only 5% of all Scouts earned the Eagle Scout rank last year, according to the group's website. To make it to Eagle, Scouts must earn 21 merit badges and serve in a troop leadership role as well as plan and complete a community service project. Traditionally, Scouting's highest rank has benefited college applicants and job seekers as a sign of a hard-working, goal-oriented character.
After becoming an Eagle Scout, Daniel Kane said he felt guilty for remaining with Scouting because he deeply disagreed with its policy on gays and lesbians.
"I reminded myself that my scoutmaster, in an incredibly courageous moment, had announced that he would never enforce the ban," Kane wrote in an e-mail to the Boys Scouts' National Executive Board. "I convinced myself that I had earned the rank, deserved it, and, since I was straight, was not breaking any rules by accepting it."
Kane said in the e-mail that now he's grown older, "I have not been able to conveniently ignore my conscience." He then wrote that he was renouncing "all affiliation" with the Boy Scouts of America.
One of the Tumblr posters, Ben Bedford of Springfield, Illinois, wrote that the policy conflicts with his idea of what it means to be a "sensitive member of the human race." Forfeiting his cherished award, Bedford wrote, "shall be my final act as an Eagle Scout."
The protest is the latest sign of unrest in the century-old organization after its announcement in July that it would not change its policy of "not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals."
The organization said its leadership had reached that decision after a nearly two-year evaluation and would take no further action. A resolution that had sought to change the policy asked to let local Scout units determine their own standards. "Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting," a statement said.
Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, responded to the ban, saying, "How long will the Boy Scouts continue to bully young gay Americans into hiding who they are and hurt children of gay parents by denying their parents an opportunity to participate in their children's lives?"
Opinion: Scouts should end its ban on gay members
Eagle recipient Britton Lense of Walworth, New York, posted on the Tumblr site that the ban violates rules outlined in the Scouting Handbook, which he said calls on Scouts to "respect and defend the rights of all people."
He wrote that he hoped the Boy Scouts "will reverse their decision and in doing so return the badges to those who are standing up for what they believe in."
Related story: Scouts feel mom's wrath
"among life's most cherished achievements" – bwahahahahaha
I am an Eagle Scout, and I thought that was hilariously melodramatic too. I learned things from becoming an Eagle Scout, but if that's your life's greatest accomplishment, hopefully you're still a kid.
"The organization said its leadership had reached that decision after a nearly two-year evaluation and would take no further action."
Sounds a bit like the current friction between the Progressive Nuns and the Vatican leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.
Gee 1% returns, that is about the normal number that aprove of gays inspite of what the gay media wants everyone to believe.
Please provide your source for this percentage.
Total nonsense. Start doing some fact-checking for the first time.
There's a gay media now?
I'm interested in what age the people are that are turning it back in.
I mean there would be a huge difference between someone refusing it at 17, knowing full well it could help them get into college or open up some doors when searching for a job, as opposed to the 33 year old in the story who likely no longer gets any benifit from the award.
Um, non-partisan polls put the number at 52% of Americans that approve marriage equality.
So bigots are the minority.
I admire their courage and their honesty.
Glad to see there is still an outstanding leadership development organization for young men that is not bowing at the PC altar. The boy scouts recognize the value of character, personal morality, and faith in God. CNN doesn't seem to understand that most of the nation does not embrace their far left agenda.
Then how do you account for the pedophile BS leaders?
Or is being a pedophile a lesser crime than being gay?
Agreed Blake. Thanks for your stance on reason and sanity.
Equal rights a far left agenda, I guess that's a fair assessment.
Actually ~50% of the nation approves, so it is far from 'far left'.
The boy scouts have been cooped by rich religious donors over the last few years. The make these decisions based off how much it will effect their pockets. They have become little more then yet another political pawn of the anti-gay movement.
There is no "god" and anybody who believes in one should be locked up.So,quit the BS and get some meds or join reality.
It is sad to see that you, or anybody for that matter, can somehow think that outstanding leadership, character, and personal morality has anything to do with faith in God. You don't seem to understand that most of the nation bows under the weighty burden of the far right agenda, which makes it "politically" correct to have an extreme view. Once again, America shows itself to the world as the exception that cannot live up to it's own standards; instead we continue to breed and support intolerance at all levels of public and private life, rather than work towards better leaders who have the capability and take the responsibility to harness the great diversity of this melting pot by leaving personal beliefs by the wayside to forge a superior culture capable of overcoming social, political, and economic challenges.
Please – be like the other political and scouting organizations around the world and separate church and state, scouting and extreme conservative beliefs.
Come on, read the bible. Jesus was gay. Otherwise he would have been married with kids by his age. The bible is one of the most immoral books ever written.
According to polling, the majority of American *actually does* support CNN's "far left agenda" in as much as marriage equality is concerned.
Eagle Scout is one of the most overrated awards anyway. Yes, I am an Eagle Scout so I have the right to speak about it. Parents and scout leaders pressure high school kids to stay in scouts and earn Eagle because it "looks so good on a resume or college application". Then you get into the real world and nobody cares about your Boy Scout history.
Correct. Many folks consider BSA to mean the BS Association.
You are a real idiot if you think earning the rank of Eagle Scout is not a big deal. Your statement describes the effort you put into earning the award and subsequent lack of meaning to you. I've made hiring decisions several times in my 25 year work career based upon an applicant having earned their Eagle Scout award. Young people who earn the award demonstrate at an early age their ability to set goals and achieve big things, project management, public speaking, organization, leadership, vision, etc., etc., etc. I doubt you actually are an Eagle Scout! If I'm wrong, you are certainly an exception to how the vast majority of us feel about being an Eagle.
Really, it helps on a job application? What? UPS driver cause you have experience in a matching shorts outfit? I would laugh my head off if someone bragged about that on a job application in my office.
Actually you are incorrect. There are several Fortune 500 companies, in which virtually ALL of the directors and senior management are Eagles – they don't publicize it, of course, but the information is there for those that want to search for it.
Scouting is becoming a thing of the past, and that is good considering they are not keeping up with society's changes. I would NEVER put my son in Boy Scouts, much rather have him go to the YMCA and their activities and camps.
As usual, the Gay Agenda is somewhat prone to hyperbole and exaggeration: 10,000? Come on, really?! When the only hard number appears to be closer to 100? I applaud the BSA's adherence to traditional values and would be more likely to involve my five sons in scouting as a result.
Sure, join the catholic church as well. Those handsy priests know family values.
Good to see the vast minority being trumpeted in the media again.
Thanks Mike. Being in the public eye gives some of those murderous holy people pause. A lot of them don't want the spotlight shining on them when they're getting ready to kill us.
Would love to see a footnote for those figures because without a valid one, they are suspect. I am a proud Eagle scout myself and supporter of the BSA.
Great, no loss to the Boy Scouts!
This is one of those situations where everyone is right. Good for the BSA for sticking to their guns, and good for the former Eagle scouts for protesting something they think to be unjust. Good people all around.
Wrong, Doug. Good people do not promote and sanction bias and bullying. What are we teaching our kids? The BSA is just another religious organization that we can do without.
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Amen WD They were dorks 40 yrs ago when I was growing up and there still dorks today.
Scout Oath excerpt: "....To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."
Question: How can you keep yourself "morally straight" if your are gay?
Do the pedophile leaders take that same oath? I know more moral gays than straight people.. I guess it just what the straight folks definition of "morality" is. I've seen a lot of immoral acts commited by supposed "moral" people, including those preying on boys in the scouts, but as long as they have a wife for their cover, all is good, right?
Is that your idea of a clever pun? If so, it's really not at al clever.
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