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

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

    God made them male and female, what part of this sentence do you not understand? Quit trying to make this a right issue; It is an abomination to God, therefore it is wrong just as stealing, lying, cheating, adultery, promiscuity, murder, etc is WRONG!!!

    August 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Viking Godess

      Get a grip> No one is forcing you to be gay. God loves everyone.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • ThomasDoubting

      Sorry Bill, there is no god. Stop forcing your medieval beliefs on others. Oh wait, your probably a BSA leader so it comes naturally to you.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • KevininPHX

      Bill, I suppose it makes no difference to you if another person, besides yourself, does not believe in your God? Thankfully, not everyone believes in a God that preached hate and exclusion. Have you considered joining up with the Westboro Baptist Church? I think you would fit right in.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. EagleScout

    I've been trying to follow this story and the only time I ever hear about Eagle Scouts returning their medals is here on CNN. Doesn't seem to resonate anywhere else. Makes me wonder if CNN is pushing this issue to make it more sensational than it really is. Among the inner circles of scouting and Eagle groups, clubs, and networks, etc. there is no massive groundswell of Eagles returning their medals. Those who do and choose to certainly can and will. But for the most part it's a non-event. Seems like a wee-bit of propaganda to me.

    August 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Viking Godess

      Yea, well, they need their ad money. They gots to eat.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Texas

    This progressive gay den mother annoucement brought to you by sponsors at Ketel One, Wells Fargo, and some other company.....

    August 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Report abuse |
  4. BS

    Had Catholic priests had any compassion, they would have renounced their priesthood. Only the abusing priests remain.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MJD

    There are thousands of Eagle Scouts, Scoutmasters and BSA folks doing very positive things for the youth of this world every hour of every day. I am just reflecting that CNN would have more credibility reporting a balance and the complete details of this particular issue rather than sound bites to incite the controversial. For the record I don't have an issue with a qualified leader of any particular background. I do have an issue with forcing an agenda through the media.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. zippy

    I say yeah for the Boyscouts of America!! God bless them This stuff with Gays and Lesbians is all over the place, and now infiltrated the BSA. What is wrong with you people??

    August 13, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Andy

    Whatever. I'm keeping mine. I worked too hard for it.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    "A Scout is Reverent." But many churches accept gay members, and Scouts are of many different faiths. I don't accept the idea that being gay should disqualify you from Scouting if you're a person who lives up to the Scout Law.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • ARaine

      Carl, I support the right of private groups to make up their own rules, but this is the most compelling argument I've read that leads me to believe the BSA should reconsider theirs.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Trent

    "While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy"
    I bet if you took a poll of all boy scouts you'd find this to be VERY wrong.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. whatever

    Ken wrote:
    "... It has heppened numerous times to me that Gay males would made advances to me even while walking on the street, or in the bars etc even while I'm minding my own business and not even looking at them! Have we all not experienced this?"

    By this exact same argument, women in general should have had men banned from society millennia ago. Just a thought from another straight male.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chris

    what the.. understand it: NO!

    August 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tracy

    To become an Eagle scout, it proves that you are capable of hard work, commitment, and perseverance... To return your eagle badge is the next level up and shows you are an honorable man of decent moral character. Somebody should make a Badge for these fine men who have Graduated from the Boy Scouts and have displayed true selflessness and courage of their convictions.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      I do not allow my boys in the scouts. The organization encourages hate and intolerance for those who are different; in contrast, I want my boys to care and respect their fellow humans. I hope my sons will never stoop so low as to exclude somebody from a potential friendship pool, or, worse, a job opportunity, simply because that other person is different.

      And for you morons who claim that orientation is a choice, think of this: it is quite common for humans to be born with both male and female organs. Is it such a stretch to realize that those organs affect our hormones, which in turn affect which gender we are attracted to? Why must you ostracize somebody for the body make-up he/she was given at birth?

      August 13, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth and Wisdom

      The scouts have the right to return their awards just as they have a right to not join the scouts or the right to not work for the highest honor. For those that return their awards, it really shows is that they remain in thinking like boys. True men know what the Scouts stand for and agree with the Scout's convictions. They align their beliefs with the Bible and understand that there are eternal consequences for their beliefs and actions. They can love the individual but not the perverted lifestyle which goes against nature and nature's God.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. FrankinSD

    Like the scoutmaster of one scout who has returned his Eagle, I made it known to the troop I led that I would not enforce what I regarded as a morally repugnant form of discrimination. But I hope that none of my Eagles will feel compelled by that, as one scout described here did, to return their Eagle. The accomplishment was theirs, not that of the BSA leadership in Texas. And the shame is centered on Texas as well. And, I feel compelled to mention that the disproportionate influence that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has in the BSA is part of the problem as well.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • jungleboo

      Thank you for speaking up, and making known this affiliation of the Mormons with BSA. Mormons are crackpots "par excellence", and we are doing the right thing by exposing them in this manner. There is nothing about the organization of Boy Scouts that precludes being inherently gay. Good works and community leadership are universal pursuits, not the sole property of straight people. Far from it.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Actually sodomy is morally repugnant to most Christians ...

      August 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • FrankinSD

      Jungleboo – I don't regard Mormons as crackpots. I would hazard to guess that if another denomination (Catholics, for instance) had the level of influence in scouting that the Mormons do, they might well use it the same way. What I object to is that people use an organization that is supposed to be about the boys to further their sectarian agendas.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ARaine

    "...return the badges to those who are standing up for what they believe in." Aren't the Boy Scouts just standing up for what they believe in, too?

    August 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • jungleboo

      Yeah, if you count bigotry as a belief.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • McDanel

      "Aren't the Boy Scouts just standing up for what they believe in, too?"

      Yes, they are, and apparently those beliefs include discrimination. Those former Scouts who are appalled by the hurtful and hateful exclusion and discrimination against gay kids have chosen to disassociate themselves in a public fashion. Good for them, I too learned in the Scouts to protect the underdog.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Woody

      ARaine – "...return the badges to those who are standing up for what they believe in." Aren't the Boy Scouts just standing up for what they believe in, too?

      Nope. Boy Scouts are supposed to believe in inclusion not exclusion.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      My thought exactly...this is the one area where opinions and different perspectives are not welcomed!

      August 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      There are several Christian religions and Muslim Sects that ban gay marriage and consider it abhorrent behavior Would you ask them to throw out their religious beliefs that they have held for thousands of years? That is both ignorant and bigotted. So to each his own -- do not try to stuff the liberal teachings down everyone's throats

      August 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bill Runnels

    I received my Eagle Scout Award in 1940. I was proud of it then and continue to feel the same today. I encourage the Scouting Leadership to hold firm on their stated policy.

    August 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • KevininPHX

      My guess is that puts you somewhere around 80 years old. I'm happy for that, because your way of thinking, has almost completely died off. I look forward to the day that it finally has, and we can all just get along.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • jungleboo

      Hats off to you, KevininPHX

      August 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • FrankinSD

      The earliest mention of this morally repugnant discrimination in BSA written material is in internal memos of 1978. So your 1940 Eagle award isn't tainted by it. But some scout councils maintained racially discriminatory rules into the 1960's. Do you defend those too?

      August 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      I find your narrow mindedness refreshing in a way...sort of like flushing the toilet after you have gone. The poop may not be in sight, but you know it was there a minute ago, and hiding it does not negate the act. You should feel ashamed of yourself for your comment.

      August 13, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      Thank God there are some rational folks here

      August 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • history lover

      My question/comment to KevininPHX is this: Both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are organizations founded in Christian principals. Why would you assume that a Christian organization would okay and sign off on changing a policy that contradicts a core Christian belief? Isn't it more illogical to join a group or organization that did not embrace the beliefs I hold dear and expect them to change just for me? I believe that is called arrogance. I am not 80 years old, in fact I am 1/2 this man's age and share his belief. I guess you just have to wait an additional 40 to get your wish.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
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