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."
Oh Ya'! Its' all about pedophiles and has nothing to do with the fact that gays (all types) are acting against established religious and biblical principles. Or that the majority of American don’t approve of that type of lifestyle or “marriage”. Good for Boy Scouts of American for standing up for morals! Just ‘cause you can figure out the way to do something, doesn’t make it right.
To fix things like this, the world needs more Eagle Scouts, not fewer.
So, let the members in protest start their own Eagle Scouts or whatever and call it Gay Scouts of America. Why not. I am so sick of this force everyone else to change for you BS. You want change go and start your own bloody organization for pete's sake.
I earned my Eagle Badge in 1960. If I could find it, I would return it. I'm ashamed of the BSA.
The fact that you can't "find" it, is indicative of how much value you placed on it!
It will be interesting when CNN and other 'news organizations' publish the list and comments of Eagle Scouts that have NOT turned in their badge. Both my sons are Eagles and they are grateful that they did not or will not have to worry about being on a campout. Not saying that all gays are pedophiles but why risk it. Those of you applauding the Scouts who have turned in their badges (and they're welcome to their opinion), I take it you don't have a son on the Scouting program. If you did, you would sleep easier at night with this policy. To OBSERVER: Sandusky is NOT straight and he IS a pedophile. His victims were all male. That doesn't fit the defintion of STRAIGHT.
It is important to distinguish between gay and pedophilia, just as it is important to know the difference between ignorant and bigoted.
How much longer will the BSA and churches harbor and protect gay members caught molesting boys.
Not much longer. The Dept. of Justice announced that fondling is the same as statutory raype, and now we are free to charge openly gay men with statutory raype. Previously, it was considered a violation of a gay mans civil rights to hold his se xual orientation against him in a court of law. Not so any longer, now that the DOJ jas decided.
I will thouroughly enjoy seeing both the gay men who raype our boys convicted of such, AND the religious and youth leaders who have been sheltering them being convicted as accomplices.
@Mr. preacherman. You should have called the police the very moment you found out your man was a boy humper. But you didn't. You covered the perp with your phony church garb.
Methinks you're reading the law wrong. It is still against the law to hold a PERSON's orientation against them. I won't hold that against you, though.
Even the BSA can't get a break from this pathetic society here in the states. Just to prove a point these SWINE are willing to make a big deal out of this so they can personally destroy the Boy Scouts. I hope they all get AIDS and DIE, MFers!!!! Oh this is not a hate crime or racism, its just the truth,SWINE!!!!
I'll keep my Eagle badge from 1958. "Morally straight" were the last two words of the Scout Oath back then, and what that phrase meant then still means something to me.
Texas is practically Mexico.
To everyone saying "why don't they just go and start their own group?".....think about what you're saying. Sure sounds a lot like what everyone said during segregation – "why don't the blacks just go to their own schools?". I'm pretty sure we learned that separate is NOT equal from that. Let's try and move forward as a country instead of backwards.
Quit trying to change a established organization that in its oath is against the Gay lifestyle. Form your own and quit being rude and crude in responses. You really think anyone wants your lack of morals leading our kids? Watch how long till someone rudly responds to this.
Good riddance. If they want to support something amoral, then they do not deserve the highest award which celebrates morality as a key component.
Scouts, not only do they teach life, nature lessons they also teach hate and intolerance. I refuse to buy anything, to support anything for those that hate. In that I refuse to support the scouts.
Chris, who's the one who is doing the hating? Sounds like you have a lot of your own hate to spread around.
sounds like you are the hater, they have a right to their organizational rules. Gays are now the BULLIES!
Gee.... that sounds kind of hateful...
I'm an Eagle and could not disagree with you more. It's clear you were never a part of that organization. At no point during my time n the Boy Scouts was I ever taught hate or intolerance about anything. No overarching policy from the National Council endorsed hate towards any group, including the gay community. I stuck with it because it added value to my life and gave me experiences that I would have never been a part of had I not. Despite the name calling and occasional ridicule from our peers, the members of my troop were proud of who we were and what we wtood for. The BSA is not a political group. They dont' make policies for political reasons and as a private organization they do not have to answer to you or anyone else who looks to politicise them. Just because they have a viewpoint contrary to your own doesn't mean they hate you. Can you say the same?
Well hooray for you Chris. What do you want, a cookie?
I'm with you. I'd rather buy a Xmas tree at the Home Depot than support the BSA.
I also refused to participate in scouts, even though I wanted to, because I would have had to hide my atheism. It's not hypocritical to hate hate, or be intolerant of intolerance. Yes, we will "bully" the Scouts with our strongly worded e-mails! Oh noes!
This is the beginning of the end of the boy scouts. You change with the times or you die off. The younger generation overwhelmingly support gay marraige. They've been brought up in a different era, and it just isn't an issue for them.
Correct, the vast majority of the under 21 demographic supports marriage equality for gays, and even more support general equality.
Its pretty much a place for kids who are a bit odd to go so now what will they do.
What a shame.
We used to look to the Boy Scouts for leadership.
Every good thing comes to an end, it seems.
Yeah, I'll bet you look to the Boy Scouts for leadership......got any examples?