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
I have extensive expereince in scouting. I learned that every American has rights, equal rights. Period. Any other excuse and name calling is NOT anything like the scouting way. To call anyone a coward for protesting shows a total ignorance of the real meaning of scouting. We are all proud citizens and who someone loves is no one elses buisness. Any Ameican that does not see this clearly is missing the point of being an American and the meaning of the scouting organization.
Roy: good post.
It's part of the Gay Activist way in your face our way or the highway. There is nothing the boy scouts do except say no gay Sandusky type scout masters......wow so terrible. I mean gay scout master would be like a gay gym teacher, they probably exist but keep it too yourself or stay out of the locker room.
This whole issue saddens me. I was a Brownie, then a Girl Scout. My four brothers were all Eagle Scouts. My husband and all his brothers went all the way through to Eagle.
I now have a 4 1/2 year old son we had thought would be going through the Cubs and Boy Scouts and become an Eagle, just like his Dad and his Uncs. Not to be.
What the Scouting Programs now seem to stand for is against every value we have tried to teach our son, particularly with regard to the respect he shows when dealing with other people, particularly those who may be different than himself.
What I see now is an organization that is mean-spirited and exclusionary and fosters the idea within it's membership that some children are "lesser" and "unworthy". It also sets up a mentality, particularly virulent within kids, that fosters bullying. Who does that to children?
We want no part of that. We will find another organization more in line with our values.
Funny, I participated in scouting for years in the 80's, and not ONCE did I hear any of that crap. It was about community service, discipline, and responsibility. YOU may be adding all that "we are a familiy, and tolerance" crap, but where did it say that in the code or merit badge books? Quit trying to take something and re-interpret it in your own wish. Scouting should remain PURE.
NativeUSA: Sandusky is a pedophile. That is not the same as gay.
Roy – well said.
he likes boys not girls hes gay
105 is a much different number than 10,000. Gays need to stop exaggerating.
Attaining Eagle is an accomplishment comparable to the work of a dedicated athlete, but it doesn't guarantee how a young man will think or behave after receiving it. Some Eagles on a Wikipedia list are questionable, but that doesn't negate the award. Returning the ribbon is a CHOICE, but doesn't really change anything.
I am the very proud daughter, niece, wife and aunt of Eagles and hope BSA stands strong on their policy.
Leave this organization and businesses alone. If gays want their own successful ventures, there's nothing stopping them from doing such.
You do realize the founder of the Boy Scouts was very fond of taking pictures of nearly nude, and in some cases, nude boys?
105 is the number of people who registered their opinion on a web page. 10,000 is the reported number of people that are protesting in some form or by returning their Eagle Scout award.
imagine if you were told you couldn't join an organization because you are a certain religion or race. That's call discrimination, and it's not right for the BSA to discriminate someone bc of who they love. That's not teaching humanity in any way shape or form.
heidiklu: you should educate yourself. The Boy Scouts of America DO discriminate based on religion. They do not allow atheists or agnostics.
On the other hand, the Boy Scouts DO embrace Islam.
Ok. Just think REAL HARD LIBERALS who want everyone to be equal sooo bad.
Would you keep girls scouts and boy scouts in the same barracks? No.
So you would ok gay men being bunked with other gay men?
"Would you keep girls scouts and boy scouts in the same barracks?"
Venture scouts exist.
Thinabout it: in many countries, Boy Scouts' organization includes both genders, without problems. Are you suggesting American boy scouts lack the moral responsibility found in other countries?
Wow, to be ignorant on so many levels. Is it painful? Or is it truly bliss?
How do you not see anything wrong with gay men and boys all camping in the same tent. You are just not in tune to reality.
Yes, let's all worship at the altar of MarkinFL who is so enlightened while those opposed are simply stupid in his vaunted opinion. Tell me, MarkinFL - have you ever been wrong about anything? No, of course not! We must all do what this guy wants us to do. Well, pal, I don't want my son anywhere near some crotch-grabbing scoutmaster. So get lost. Or, better yet, go back to your gay bar.
For this case, no gays in the Boys Scouts is quite appropriate and will protect the other kids from questionable behavior and intent is my opinion.
Actually the ignorance part falls on you
Look at the definition of ignorance. Tell me if it still should be used in your sentence.
"Protesting Scouts renounce Eagle awards"
What else do you expect from those who've renounced morality as well?
How have they renounced morality?
nottolate: they have actually affirmed morality (their tolerance and respect for others) because the BSA is unwilling to act as a responsible, moral organization. If anything, their protest and return of the medals shows that they have more courage and moral strength than ever.
The fact that you equate tolerance and support of gays and lesbians with immorality suggests you have a peculiar view of the world.
I run a rather large boys Soccer program where fall registration is now under way. Out of curiosity I asked how many of the boys were also in Boy Scouts by show of hand. Not one boy raised his hand. Not one. I was never a Boy Scout because my parents told me the uniforms were too expensive but I recall my dad giving my my first pocket knife and telling me, "Now you're a Boy Scout"... I don't think they are even popular anymore so if the Gay's want in on a dying club well they might just be the only members wanting in these days...
When boys join Scouting, they are too young to know if they are gay or not. Maybe the BSA should start doing psychological testing on Cub Scouts!! My son was gay....he was a Life Scout (just didn't finish his Eagle project). Attended Jamboree, loved the camping and canoe trips. As a young adult later in life, he was angry because the BSA would not let him be a leader because he was gay. He passed away at age 29. He would be so proud of those who are now standing up to this discrimination. Thank you, all of you!
Past away from what?
This may seem insensitive, but what did he die from?
Every other year – why don't the boy scouts welcome atheists, why don't the boy scouts include girls, why don't the boy scouts welcome gays? Everytime the answer is because to do so would be disruptive to the mission and success of the organization. Most adults involved in scouting have boys in the program. Cenus data doesn't make a headcount but I imaginge that the number of gay couples who have adopted male children in the U.S. is less than a 1,000 nationwide. The vast majority of gays don't want families, that would cut into the time they spend pushing their agenda on these msg boards. To those who have handed in their Eagle Scout ranks because they disagree with scouting's values – you did the right thing.
The Girl Scouts do quite well allowing atheists and other groups. A conservative off-shoot formed for exclusively straight, christian girls, but it has not pulled away from the GSA's popularity. If the BSA were to allow those who did not believe in a christian god, or those whose orientation were different, they would manage well, too. As it is, they are slowly becoming more and more irrelevant in today's world.
Consider how the Boy Scout organizations are run in other countries, and you will realize how narrow and exclusive the American branch really is.
you sound like another obama racist hipocrite. Blame everyone else and admit no truths. Sheeeesh!
'Hess'??!! Any relation to the Nazi? you sound like one.
I thought Rudolph Hess was convicted of Nazi War crimes and died in prison.
so clever, using the name of hess.. that alone speaks volumes. The rabid right can bring President Obama name into any conversation
Duh! Didn't they know what the Scouts stand for?
No, not the BSA. The American public is being force fed the gay agenda.
To be treated as equal citizens? I can support that agenda.
What is it about gays and lesbians wanted to be treated equally bothers you? Me thinks thou protests too much.
Amen! So sick of it!
This is a private organization of hundreds of thousands. There are evidently a small percentage that vehemously disagree with the policy of no gays. THe VAST MAJORITY agree with the Boy Scout policy. If they change the policy...I will leave the organization and many more would leave the organization than will be lost from this public display of displeasure by the gays. It is a private organization and I support 100% banning avowed gays from leadership. I do NOT want my son influenced and camping with avowed gay adult leaders. End of story
That are a private organization - you are correct. And they are, therefore, able to ban whom they want (except for protected groups). You advocate banning ADULT gays; the article talks about banning BOYS who are gay. How do you stand on the subject of banning boys from the noble BSA?
I think perhaps you should re-read the article.
Right, because every gay person is a pedophile. So you'd be okay with Jerry Sandusky as your kid's leader?
Pedophilia and being gay have nothing in common, Just as Sandusky (who is STRAIGHT and a pedophile) has nothing to do with the Boy Scouts. I think a little bit of research and study would do a lot of good toward eliminating your ignorance about this subject and most likely many other subjects as well..
Observer, Straight men do not have such encounters with boys.
Most pedofiles are straight men, ever heard of Sandusky or lets see, about a couple hundred Catholic priests?
Huff, straight men are pedophiles with young boys, just as they are with young girls. While I am sure there are some gay men and lesbian women who are pedophiles, the majority of your pedophiles are straight caucasian men. Most are married to women with kids of their own.
Jery Sandusky is straight
You surprise me with your lack of intelligence. That is such blantant falsehood.
Yes they do. Pedophilia isn't defined by gender preference.
The Congressional Black Caucus is an organization representing the black members of the United States Congress. Membership is exclusive to African-Americans
Isn't anyone upset with a clearly racist group operating with the government?
What would folks say if there were a white caucus?
If sandusky wasn't gay why didn't he go after little girls?
Hmmm, maybe because he wasn't around little girls, only boys?? You are obviously as ignorant of the facts surrounding Sandusky's pedophilia as you are ignorant of the difference between being gay, straight, and pedophiliac. Ask Sandusky himself... bet you he would never identify himself as being gay (he was married to a woman, remember).
If Sandusky was straight then why he went after boys not girls? Not every gay is a pedofile of course but I would not want my kids to be led by gays. What happened to expressing your preferences in America which used to be a presumed right?
I don't hate gays by any means, I don't call for any discrimination of gays, but I think if a handicapped person could not serve in the combat forces in the military the same way gay could not be a teacher.
Football has very few female players...
Is this really that hard for you to grasp?
Your psot is nothing but a call for discrimiation. If you are truly concerned with the safety of children, here's a llittle study for you: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/94/1/41
How can one say Sandusky is a "straight pedophile" who happened to "like boys"? Sandusky is a pervert and will be someone's "girlfriend" in the slammer!
The FACT is that ALL pedophiles who have preyed on the Boy Scouts have been MALES. I would say that makes those men G@Y, wouldnt you?
ya, right, he didn't have his own kids. because he only did what he did.
Actually they are similar, in that being gay and being a pedophile are both equally immoral!
Your argument is not valid. Clearly, it's about the odds and the exposure. Can you grasp that concept?
The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of pedophile being a straight man.
I am no expert, but gay and pedophile are clearly different.
You're contradicting yourself. Sandusky is obviously GAY because he is attracted to males. Just younger ones. He was addicted to intercourse with males. is that not what gay men do?
Perhaps, but 3/4 of the molesters go after little girls, according to the Dept of Justice. So that means for every gay perderast, there's 3 straight ones....
No, you are just showing your ignorance.
No, gay men don't have intercourse with boys, pedophiles do.
Jerrys likes boys, thats gay dude
So liking boys is a gay thing so is raping small girls a straight thing – are you saying all straight men like small girls ?
@donna...everything you say are lies...gays are pedrasts...which is a form of h0m0s3xual!ty NOT pedophilia. sandusky is a closet h0m0s3xu al, his victims were boys, a man on the downlow whose wife and job was his beard...same-s3 x-attraction has nothing to do with age as much as it has to do with gender...sooo donna gay man pederast sandusky did intercourse... with boys...please note patti...
Huh?!!! :/ U r irrational!!!!!
Quite a few of them are. Stop being so ignorant.
@mkoch: Jerry Sandusky is obviously gay... statement does not compute...
I earned an Eagle Scout award, and I do NOT renounce mine. Proud that the scouts have stood on their values.
No great loss – boy scouts can afford to lose these 33-year old manchilds. They are the ones the boy scouts want to keep out anyways.
Sandeep: I do not think you understood the article. These men were boy scouts when they were boys, and they achieved the BSA's highest rank. BSA thought they were the best of the best... so if you doubt their merit, you doubt the entire BSA organizational structure.
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