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. Mark

    Separate Scouting from Religion, or let it die. They are both on the way out.

    August 16, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      Your opinion, not a FACT. That is the problem with liberals they believe their "opinion" is factual.

      August 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. William Gibbons "Eagle Scout 2008"

    Id never give back my metals or awards for my accomplishments

    August 16, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mirror

    Remember back when you had to do something heroic to be a hero - now all you have to be is gay.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. To God and my country

    I, along with 100,000 other eagles, am "re-affirming" my eagle award in support of the BSA.

    August 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jon Dough

    All boy scouts should get as many friends as they can and join the local LGBT club and at each meeting bring up marriage should be between man and women only, and join their parades with signs/banners declaring straight and proudest. Let's see how tolerant the LGBT would be of being associated with those messages.

    August 16, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. gospyro

    I did not make Eagle, but if I did, I would be one of those who sent the award back. My son did make Eagle, and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he decides to send his back.

    August 17, 2012 at 4:54 am | Report abuse |
  7. Eagle Scout

    So, if 100 Eagles jump off a bridge, then 10000 are supposed to follow. Don't think so. Go BSA! I'm a proud Eagle that supports the decision to prevent gay individuals serving with my kids. Start your own organization for what you believe in and don't run ours in the mud because you disagree with its principles.

    August 17, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. new Eagle Scout

    OFFICIAL 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 my self physically strong, mentally awake, and MORALLY STRAIGHT.

    OFFICIAL Scout Law:
    A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, OBEDIENT, cheerful, thrifty, brave, CLEAN, and reverent.

    keep it the way it should be. BSA doesn't go in the ways of the rest of the world. that is why Eagle Scouts stand alone in this world. we fly high above the corruption and evil ways of the rest of the world. we stay true to the standards and the values of a true Scout. i may only be 17 years old but i know why i became an Eagle Scout. and it wasn't to see BSA give in and let things change because of one person who is just trying to prove that gays can do what ever they want. and im sorry if this offends anyone because if it does i don't mean it to.

    January 9, 2013 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  9. BEN

    liberals are so unhappy with their lives, which is why they are so determined to keep trying to ruin other peoples' lives. BSA is PRIVATE organization. They can do what they want......PERIOD!!!!! I am a gay conservative, BSA is right on track. Keep up the good work BSA!!

    January 9, 2013 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
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