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. RF

    My only response to that is...are you insane? That might be the least intelligent thing I've read today.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sam W

    I also learned that there are giant robots on the Moon from Transformers.

    I'm perpetually terrified now.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Morgan

    About 100 have returned their awards but Ray Myers claims there are 10,000.

    This is one reason gay people and gay sympathizers have difficulty gaining any degree of respect from straights. Every issue gets blown completely out of proportion. 100 is nowhere near 10,000.

    I agree wholeheartedly with one other poster who suggested gay people should organize their own group and label it Gay Scouts of America. The BSA has a policy developed over many years and by numerous leaders who were in agreement. For gays to continue insisting the BSA change to suit them is just plain wrong.

    Form your own group and get on with it. The BSA isn't going to insist you allow straights to join.

    Discrimination? I don't think so. Any organization has the right to create its own policy.

    The Methodists have a policy. Are we going to allow the Catholics to join the Methodists and tell them they have to change their policy to suit them? It would be a similar situation but gays can't seem to get that through their head.

    The local Moose club sometimes offers wild game suppers. Should we allow Peta members to join and force the Moose change its policy? NO. The Moose club has the right to make its policies and if you don't like it don't join. START YOUR OWN DAMNED ORGANIZATION. I wouldn't even think of joining PETA and trying to change their policy, I respect their right to their own. Maybe that is what's missing in the mind of gays. They don't respect your right to your opinion?


    There are so many people today who can't stand it if you disagree with them. It makes them feel bad.

    Well I have news for you, it isn't my duty to make you feel good. That is your job.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      As long as the BSA accepts government support, they need to abide by anti-discrimination policies. I would have no issue with their policy if it wasn't backed by taxpayer dollars.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Art

      Morgan, nice post.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigHwasdemo

      Tell it like it is bro'

      August 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • RF

      Morgan, I'm happy to see you at least have an educated response as opposed to most outlandish comments on here. But I have to certainly is discrimination. Everyone does have the right to create their own policies, but that doesn't mean said policies are right. I'm sure countless people believed that separating blacks from whites with their own bathrooms, own schools, own places on public transportation, etc. was perfectly fine back then....but was that right? No. Everyone said it was equal because they had "their own" separate organizations and businesses, but it wasn't. It was discrimination then, just like it is now.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert

    Just how, exactly, would the gay community propose the human race continue if they succeeded in getting everyone to be the way they are? Why do they not feel an equal responsibility to the propagation of the human race? Why excuse themselves from the responsibility we all share?

    August 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • MashaSobaka

      Where do you people get the impression that gays want to "convert" anyone? You're confusing their inborn orientation with your own religion. Sorry. It doesn't work that way.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      This is a non-argument. The same way that straight couples who have trouble concieving do; are you against that, too? It is not ANY member of the human race "responsibility" to propogate this planet.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Where on earth did you get the idea that gay people want everybody else to be like them? You'll never find any gay people who think that way. Gay people almost always come from straight parents, you know. And have straight siblings. And straight friends. So the whole "they hate straights" idea is ludicrous. They just want the ability to live their lives without discrimination, just as straight people do.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      They don't just discriminate against gays: they also have a formal policy of religious persecution. Athiest? Then forget about being a scout.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JEx

    Wait, so if a grown man finds attraction an sees nothing wrong with adolescent boys he is NOT gay but straight?
    CNN users, you confuse me more and more every day...

    August 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. HenkV

    BSA does not need these role models anyway. They can just replace them with catholic priests.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. eli

    Pedophiles are normally straight men with children of their own. There is a big difference between being gay and a pedophile. If you do not know this then you are the one with the problem. I had thought of returning my badge but after reading some of this garbage on here I will for sure be returning ASAP. I would never want to be with a group that spouts hate.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Only Fair

      Aside from all the gay pedophiles of course

      August 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • McAfee

      And the straight peds, of which the majority are, Only Fair. Do some bloody research.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ThorGoLucky

    The government should revoke the BSA charter. Why should they get special treatment? If they want to be a herp derp organization, they should do it on their own dime.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. MashaSobaka

    I applaud these principled young men for their respect and tolerance. They are true leaders.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  10. The Great Republic of Texas

    All you Eagle Scouts who want to return your medals, do it you idiots, this is wrong period. They finally wore you down like trash.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Roger smith

    there are more gay pedophiles then straight pedophiles. how do we know this? easy. all the priest who were caught being pedophiles in the catholic church were gay.

    there as not been one case of a straight priest molesting girls in the catholic church.

    why are all the pedophiles in the catholic church gay men?

    August 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • McAfee

      Just in my diocese alone, there was a priest who molested both boys and girls, and one who molested girls exclusively. What is that called? PEDOPHELIA. Where are they now? Well, I don't know. They were wisked away, never to be seen or heard of

      August 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Eagle Scout Jack

    Just like always the minority is getting the air time, Oh Bother. I doubt few if any of those in protest have remained active in Scouting. Everyone I talk to associated with BSA and those who support from the sidelines are so happy we have stuck to our guns. It’s a private organization and it’s a personal choice the only reason they are making anything of it is the same reason they show their asses everywhere else, trying to normalize their perversion. There’s another organization that would love to have them it’s called NAMBLA, we'll see how many parents will send their kids to that summer camp. The lesbians can stay as far as I’m concerned.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Robert

    Fifty years ago, gay activity was morally reprehensible. They were in denial that it would ever be accepted. Today it has been mostly accepted. Today pedophilia is morally reprehensible. We are in denial that it will ever be accepted. Fifty years from now, it will be mostly accepted. We are on a slippery slope. Had do you guys propose we stop it?

    August 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      "Gau" activity will always be morally reprehensible to those who are anti-gay, but pedophilia will always be morally reprehensible because it involes the r a p e of a non-consenting child. No slippery slope. Just the intelligence to know the difference.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      The "slippery slope" argument? Really? Guess what opponents of interracial marriage said? "It's a slippery slope; soon, you'll be allowed to marry your dog."

      Get on the right side of history, rather than the bigotted, forgotten side.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Juls1314

      Pedophelia is illegal. Being gay is not. Pedophelia is an adult forcing a young child. Being gay is between 2 consenting adults.
      You are comparing apples to oranges. Nice try through

      August 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • JWT

      If you cannot figure out the difference then you have some very serious personal problems.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Athiest

      I know you're trying to be funny, but there are dimwits out there who really believe what you said.

      Adult relations with a child and an animal are illegal, because they can not legally consent to the actions.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Common Sense

      Yeah because consenting behavior between two adults is analogous to forcing oneself on a non-consenting child... totally the same types of actions

      August 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • ben

      150 years ago, it was common practice to force 14- and 15-year-old girls into arranged marriages with older men. Do you really think that we've gone downhill in our treatment of kids since then? It's been a positive recent development to have most of society agreeing that "too young" is a relevant concept.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dude

      If you can't understand the difference between molesting children and consenting adults doing their thing, then you really are a moron.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • twirtzy

      Your slippery slope notion is both morally and intellectually bankrupt. Likening gays and lesbians to pedophiles is a common tactic for those that are misinformed, or not informed at all, about both pedophiles and the gay and lesbian community.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Allen W.

      Whatever are you talking about? You make no sense.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • D JM

      I propose we stop making ignorant comparisons between an expression of love between two consenting adults and the victimization of children by a deviant and mentally ill individual.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      It hasn't been mostly accepted. It's been accepted by the media and it's become politically incorrect to be against it in the work-place. On the inside, and at home, I'd say 85% of this country or more still find it reprehensible.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      @ Robert..Pedophilia is an afront against children which is wrong! Being gay and having a relationship with another consenting adlt is all together different.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • KL


      That is the most ridiculous straw man argument I have heard today. Whatever your feelings on gay people, theirs is a relationship in which two people consent. Pedophilia is a not and it never will be when you consider the power dynamics between and adult and a child. Did you seriously think that was a valid analogy or did you purposefully cloud the issue. If it was the former, then you really need to go back and brush up on classics of oratory, debate, and logic since your posting contained none of those elements. If it was the latter, then shame on you for purposefully misleading those whose grasp of the issue is simpler than even yours.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • MICAHM

      Save yourself now and repent.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cindy

    Instead of attempting to force the BSA into changing their policies, beliefs, values, establish your own organization. I applaud the Scouts for standing up for themselves.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Thats right... people forget that they can leave the BSA behind if they wish, but would rather topple an organization that stands proud of ethics that represent me and people similar to me. What is tolerant about that?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Athiest


      Who are the scouts "standing up for"?

      It isn't the children who have LGBT parents and loved ones. Some kid has no way to control what his parents do.

      The administration is standing up for themselves, not for the children.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Irish

      I agree.....our society is based on the family unit....the gay lifestyle of a few individulas should not be the basis for changing the traditional values of the majority.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Scout master

    I have had several boys over the years who came out sort of all theboys knew they went to school together they had no problem I had no problem it just wasen't talked about the problem is bsa's largest financal supperter is the mormon church they are the problem

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