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. Colon Bloe

    Well, Id say the boy scouts did exactly what they set out to do when these men returned their Eagle Scout awards.... Teaching them leadership and the respect and defense of other people's rights. Well done!

    August 13, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MAC

    Part of the Scout Oath is being "Morally Straight" which is part of the Oath and Law all scoutss, leaders, and Eagle Scouts thrieve to live by. Like religion the gay lifestyle is not viewed as "Morally Straight". Another part of the Scout Law is a Scout is" Reverent" and the Oath includes "Duty to God" and that is why atiesst cannot be Eagle Scouts or leaders. They are not doing everything possible to live up to the entire Scout Oath and Law. That is the real issue1

    August 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. freespeech00

    Why is it that people only want others to have free speech if it agrees with what they believe? People want the right to say they are gay or lesbian and to be able to not be percecuted because of it. However, if I want to say that I am a Christian and don't believe in gay "marrage" than I am a racist or a bad person. I am not here to judge them. I just believe differently. Just like they should not judge me. I have gay and lebian friends and I respect them as people. Just like they understand my opinion. This doesn't mean that we agree on everything but we agree to disagree and move on. So the Boy Scouts of America don't want gay or lesbians, start a different organization based on the Boy Scouts and make it gay and lesbian only. There are many organizations that don't let crtain groups join. Agusta National doesn't let women join. There are men only and women only soroities. There are African American only fraternaties. Why can't we just agree to disagree and move on?

    August 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      I want you to have the right to say whatever you want, even if you are a racist or a bad person.

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

      Even in the US Congress, there is a black caucus ... and that is not racist?

      August 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bill

    Wow what a big deal! "over 100" have returned their Eagle, thet is out of over 2,000,000 - ONE in TWENTY THOUSAND. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. The media coverage!!!!

    August 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Aardie

    Yes, the BSA needs to remove "respect and defend the rights of all people" from the handbook. They don't need to be hypocrites as well as bigots.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Observer

      And you would probably have the Catholic and other Christian religions and the nation of Islam amend their bibles Qarans and holy scruptures too?

      August 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • pjusa

      The handbook does indeed read "respect and defend the rights of all people" nowhere does is say "include". I don't include a lot of people in activities that I participate in for a variety of reasons. That does not mean I don't respect them. This is the USA and everyone should respect and defend the rights of all people to associate with those who have like interests and beliefs.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dale

    It's Boy Scouts, not gay scouts, or lesbian scouts

    August 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      I like your comment. It's not Gay Scouts or Lesbian Scouts. You know Professional football teams don't let women play on them. And the major golf tournaments are men only. And Boy Scouts is BOY Scouts.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Wilson BenWa

    Gays want to be free to lure boys into perverted acts. Gays are mentally ill.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  8. dennis

    Wow, they brain wash kids and then point to these kids as being a majority of members agreeing.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Observer

    Dumb move .... just like Senator Kerry throwing his Vietnam medals away -– there many other worse woes in the world than the ban on gays in the Boy Scouts ... I suspect somebody from the liberal left put them up to it

    August 13, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  10. McDanel

    "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,"

    Is excluding a child one of those "life changing benefits"? Sorry kid, you're too sissy to scout...I can see where the hate would be life changing, but not all that beneficial. Perhaps Fundamentalist Christian Scouts would be a better name, making the intended exclusions apparent to all who might want to join.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jesus Is Lord

    Jesus is the answer. He is the ONLY way to the Father in Heaven. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent, obey and be saved!

    August 13, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Cantstandya

      Religion is for people that do not believe in themselves. Seriously, You sound like a nutjob. You might as well believe in the tooth fairy or unicorns lmao.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paco

      You need to get your head out of the clouds my friend. Jesus would disagree with the ban too. The fact that these boys cant participate in Scouting is ridiculous. The whole organization should be ashamed of what it is doing, and I applaud the young men who have given up the honor of eagle to stand for what is right.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • elf

      Prove it. And no, the bible is not proof.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Peter Griffin

      Jesus is fictional.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jasie

      Yes.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Turtleguy

      Jesus was a carpenter. Probably a nice enough guy, with strong opinions. Not a supernatural being. He's been dead for centuries. You won't be hearing from him again. Get used to it.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • edwardo69

      Jesus told a woman who was impregnated by a rapist, that she should marry him, and the rapist must pay a fine to his father. That's the freak that you worship!?

      August 13, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • GMC123

      Ok...but that's not the issue :/

      August 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      The Greatest of these is love. Judge NOT, lest you be judged......LOVE your neighbor as yourself.....don't you get it ? God's blessings to you my friend..........

      August 13, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickmonkey3

      amen

      August 13, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. trekie70

    I fully support these Eagle Scouts who are choosing to return their awards. At the same time, I will not be returning mine because I worked very hard to earn it. I don't think returning these awards will cause the BSA to change their policy. A much better approach might be to write letters to local papers and Council Executives, urging them to follow a policy of acceptance rather than discrimination. If enough Troops/Councils did this, it might force the National Office to rethink their decision.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • edwardo69

      By keeping your badge, you are denying others the experience you got to have... how selfish.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Mark

    And, all of those returning there medals will get one free night of leadership training by the second mile charity.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Only if Sandusky is their troop leader.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dana

    They renounce the values of the Boy Scouts knowing what they stand for long before they joined tell me they've been corrupted by their parents and the disgusting lifestyles of gays and lesbians.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Turtleguy

      Don't like gay relationships? Don't have one.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      So tell me, When was it you "decided" to be Straight ? At what moment did that come ? Me deciding to be straight would be as hard for me as you deciding you wanted to be gay........ UGH don't you get it? IT is not a choice what turns you on.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Tom then go down to your knees and I'll let you blow me, that makes me ,what accepting your gay and I got polished by you.
      That's good I accept you and you blow.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:52 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    Time for major target practice at a pride parade?

    August 13, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • ss

      spoken like a true repukeian

      August 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Turtleguy

      Homeland security will probably be investigating you for making terrorist threats and instigating a terrorist act. Have a nice day.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickmonkey3

      dude thats just cold. im anti-gay but thats cold

      August 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
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