August 13th, 2012
11:57 AM ET

Protesting Scouts renounce Eagle awards

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

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Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Protest
soundoff (1,089 Responses)
  1. sam

    I never understood the ban on gays and lesbians in the scouts. There isn't many things gayer than dressing up in those outfits and wearing kerchiefs around their neck

    August 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cogitoergosum

    So when are they coming for you, Frank?

    August 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Donnie the Lion

    Bravo to the scouts who are calling out the BSA for their ignorant policies. Get on board the liberty train, BSA, or get left at the station. Not saying there is any connection whatsoever between the two organizations, I don't believe there is at all, but I've heard murmurs the KIKK are fans of the BSA for promoting a white, straight America.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. tamars

    how marvelous. these young people learned the values taught in scouts and choose to live by them they are fabulous. if only the "leadership" would live by the same humane standards – especially since they know there are many gay members but choose to deny them rights and proveleges!

    August 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Marci

    Bravo.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Marci

    oops..your parents should be proud

    August 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cecil Nixxon

    "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?"

    ...as long as the organization is a front-group for organized religion, that's how long! Just go to the BSA web site and see who the majority of charter organizations are. Charter organizations provide the resources needed to organize, fund and run a BSA unit. These organizations aren't going to give something to America for nothing. They all have an agenda these days.

    My beloved troop back in the 60's was chartered by a Methodist church. They were non-judgmental and the issue of their ideologies never played into the program except for prayers and support. Look at how far we've come (sarcasm intended.)

    August 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

    I salute these courageous young men, for their attention to their consciences and their responsibilities to other human beings. They clearly have impeccable character and will achieve much, much higher accomplishments in our society by making the correct decisions in spite of so much opposition from their "leaders," who don't have the moral turpitude to be leaders of this golden band of young men, who would rather follow the dictates of a sound conscience than to forfeit their integrity for a piece of metal, regardless of how cherished and hard-earned that it was. I say God Bless Our Courageous Young Men, who forfeit their honors rather than cow-tow to the lowest political ideology that has become all to common and accepted among a once cherished organization. Sometimes you develop the most character by opposing that which though popular is wrong.

    Imagine if there had been so courageous a band of young men and boys, who had stood up for conscience sake against the Hitler Youth. I doubt that the Nazi thugs would have gained so much power as to bring the downfall of their own country, and abject misery to countless innocent people.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Specialk

      Comparing the BSA to Hilter Youth is ridicilious. To not join the Hilter Youth could mean imprisonment or death. Because of that, most did not 'stand up' and protest. Whether these Scouts turn in their badge or not, it's something that they earned and can not be taken from them.

      ONCE AN EAGLE, ALWAYS AN EAGLE.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • BobbyBrick

      Ahhh...the ol' liberal "Hitler/Nazi" comparison....bravo!

      August 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. NativeUSA

    Easy no problem remove them from all lists listing Eagle scout and ask them for their certificate back.
    I have no issue doing the same iwth someone that renounces military awards ( like John Kerry the war criminal) renoounce your award we ask for it back and you no longer can consider yourself or EVER use the term to describe yourself again no problem.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RV1982

    Good. As an Eagle Scout, I personally do not want to be associated with Ray Myers or the others. Good riddance.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. joester

    I have said for a long time now that if the Gay community doesn't like the Boy Scouts and what they stand for, teach, and believe, then they should start the Gay Scouts of America. Their own private organization with their own beliefs and their own leaders.
    Stop being haters and let the Boy Scouts be who they are.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • JayVMN

      The BSA is what it is.
      Always has been.
      Don't like it? Don't join it.
      You can have a parade of your own if you want, but I don't have to attend.
      And if I have a parade you don't have to come if you want, but you can if you want to...just be nice.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jrhodeisland

    HAHAHA... I just read a comment that a Gay Scout Leader would be socially frowned upon same as sending an ADULT WOMAN with a group of teenage boy scouts. I was a former ADULT WOMAN girl scout leader, and i would have taken that teenage boy scout troop any day. If they were genuinely taught respect and moral obligation it would make no difference that I was female and they were male. No wonder the Military has so many issues. People who claim to have all these qualities of respect and morals really don't. They are hidden Bigots.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. jrhodeisland

    HAHAHA... I just read a comment that a Gay Scout Leader would be socially frowned upon same as sending an ADULT WOMAN with a group of teenage boy scouts. I was a former ADULT WOMAN girl scout leader, and i would have taken that teenage boy scout troop any day. If they were genuinely taught respect and moral obligation it would make no difference that I was female and they were male. No wonder the Military has so many issues. People who claim to have all these qualities of respect and morals really don't. They are really Bigots and will probably not figure it out themselves.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mensaman

    Boy Scout Oath:

    "On my honor, I will do my best
    To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
    To help other people at all times;
    To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight." :-)

    August 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • B33tle

      Exactly. (Also Mensa).

      August 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • jp

      "On my honor, I will do my best
      To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
      To help other people at all times;
      To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

      Hmmm seems straight forward to me.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. NativeUSA

    All that renounce may not be sodomites but all sodomites are Obama voters..........

    August 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
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