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

Post by:
Filed under: Gay and lesbian • Protest
soundoff (1,089 Responses)
  1. Vern

    Frankly, I agree totally with what you stated. It's unfortunate when a minority can "appear" to represent the majority and presume that they should set policy for the rest of us, whether we like it or not. A major culprit in assisting them to pull this off is the liberal news media. I remember when the term gay" used to mean something cheerful, clean & happy. Also, gays & lesbians criticize the rest of us for picking on them, but look what they do to those who don't agree with their agenda. They try to destroy those who have wholesome family values, by boycotting....etc.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean Langwiser

      Vern, When civil rights, the American revolution or any other movement began it was started by a minority of the people. They just happened to be more courageous than the silent majority. As a matter of fact, it is the silent majority that allowed the holocaust, racism and a host of other travesties to occur.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      Dean, guess what, we are not silent

      August 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • twirtzy

      You do realize that the "they" you are referring to are Eagle Scouts and straight. Most are not returning the award because they are gay. They disagree with the policy and don't want to be associated with a group that has that policy. Or maybe you are saying that the BSA should have the right to make their own policies, but their members don't have the right to an opinion on the policy.

      You failed when you started your post with "They" before even understanding who "they" are.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ben31

    The BSA has concerns about gays being too close with young boys because 72% of pedophile arrests involve gay males who are attracted to young boys. The gays are more than welcome to start their own boy scout organization but I doubt any sane parents will allow their child to join that organization. Only other gay parents will probably want their kids to be in there but those kids are probably molested anyway to it does not matter. I am a proud parent of a boy scout and I don't want any gays near my kids. Please stay away.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really

      Nothing like making up statistics, Ben. The vast majority of pedophile arrests are Straight men, not Gay. For Pete's sake, at least do minimal research.

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

      I am Ben, and I am frightened by all of which I don't understand............

      August 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Athiest

    Welcome to 2012, where the new Jewish and Auschwitz is LGBT people.

    They're the perfect "enemy" for your bigoted organization to openly hate and oppress, because they're INVISIBLE.

    That's right, there's no big facial features, or differences in skin color, or ethnicity. Someone – Anyone – could be one. And they could be lurking here RIGHT NOW!

    They must be stopped. But, since we can't actually identify anyone with LGBT traits, we can't possibly be a hate mongering group.


    KKK, Christianity, Catholics (irony amiright?), Boy Scouts of America, Chick Fil A, American Military, and so many other anti LGBT organizations

    August 13, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • califuberalles

      Jello, that you?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Nice nonsensical comparison.

      Comparing the Boy Scouts ban on gays to the extermination of the Jews is like comparing ... heck, I can't even think of a good comparison.

      Gays don't have to join the Boy Scouts, and they aren't beaten and killed when they do. The Jews, however, had little choice in the matter.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kane (different Eagle Scout)

      Hey, the military is coming around. Haven't you heard, DADT was repealed? I can't say ALL individuals in the military are opening their minds, but it's significant enough that the policy has changed.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dan QUINN


    August 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike

    OK so people are born gay right? Then how do you explain the likes of Anne Heche?
    To say ALL gays are born that way is simply wrong.
    Some, like Anne Heche, used it for publicity purposes.
    Anne Heche is the reason the LGBT folks lost some respect. And don't think she is the only one out there using it for a purpose other than that of being born gay.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      Are you for real? Anne Heche is bi. Attracted to both genders. Lots of people are! What a dim argument!

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

      That's actually one of the more humorous arguments I've ever read. Yes, all of our problems can be laid at the feet of Anne Heche. Good grief.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. eclipse

    It's still stupefying that anyone who doesn't accept the gay whine agenda is vilified. And it's clear USA Today will always frame an article to be sympathetic to the 'underpiveleged' LGBT community, who are 'discriminated' against on so many fronts. It's actually strange the stand some supporters take. For example, no longer can anyone have an opinion that doesn't support every conceivable claim by the LGBT without being cast as a hatemonger, at least by the sympathizers. Let's see: you have the freedom to shack up with whoever you want. Shouldn't that be the end of it??? If more don't make their voice heard, and redraw the lines, this is going to end up where our culture really doensn't want it to go.

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

      What's so stupefying about it? It is vile to oppose equal rights.

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

      Is there some right to join the Boy Scouts that I'm unaware of? You know they don't allow girls either... right? I guess they're violating women's "rights" now too.

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

      Tom, if that was to me, I never said joining the Boy Scouts was a right. The comment I was responding to, specifically said "the gay agenda," and "the gay agenda" is to gain equal rights.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jamal0390

    As an eagle scout i must continue to suport scouts however i will not support the adminstration that creates the policy. Scouting is still worthwile and has a lasting effect on young people. I strongly urge the Scouting administration to adapt with the times and follow "All the Oaths and Obligations" we all swore to when we became eagles. These oaths say nothing of excluding any particular goup of people. Gays and Lesbians should not be banned from scouting just like they are not banned from our armed forces.

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

      As a scouter myself, I know that the Boy Scouts do regularly exclude a group of people – girls.

      So, now they must include girls too, right? What about transgender children?

      When does a perceived right to inclusion override a private organization's right to exclusion?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jl

    BSA is a privatley funded organization. It does not receive any, I repeat does NOT receive ANY taxpayer funding. Yes, BSA troops can utilize schools for their meetings howwever;it should be pointed out that the troop PAYS for the use of the facilities. Typicallya a nominal fee, but a fee all the same.

    BSA is supported in large by the Cahtolic Church, as well as other community organizations.

    I should point out, I agree BSA should change its' policy but, before people speak on scouting they should have their facts straight.

    BSA provides opportunity for numerous boys who might not otherwise be able to learn many life skills due to their families financial situations. They are given opportunites to learn to respect all and uphold the rights of others. I commend those that have returned their Eagle awarads in silent protest to support the rights of others however; scouting provides a lifetime of skills and knowledge for future generations of young men. With so much violence and lack of achievement in today's society BSA povides opprotunites for young men to be mentored and promote positve change their lives.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Wrong, the BSA recieves significant government support through the use of govenrment lands for free or at discounted prices, as well as military lands. So yes, as those lands require taxpayer money to unkeep, they are indirectly recieving government support.

      In essense, that argument is moot.

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

      Sam W, the lands used by scouts are primarily owned by the scouting organizations – bought and paid for with scout money. While they camp on public lands sometimes, there is no difference than the general population camping there. Your argument that scouting is somehow government funded is moot.

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

      The BSA is also taking both a political and religious stance that excludes some needy children. But if your parents aren't in the BSA mold, that need is ignored.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Wrong again, Tom. The annual Jamboree is held on military land, property where the general public isn't allowed.

      Or did you "foget" about that little tidbit?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Obviously, I meant "forget."

      August 13, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cliff

    I think it' great what these people are doing. They know the BSA policy. They know they are unfit to wear the badges. They are giving the badges back. That's excellent. At least the BSA won't have it's morally impeccible reputation sullied by these abhorrant sinners wearing the badge. Good for them...

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

      You sicken me. The vast majority of these people are straight and are just following the idea of respect for all; read the Reddit page. They are much better people than you.

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

      Morally impeccable? You mean like the Catholic Church?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. R E

    Maybe you were born an Eagle Scout, and didn't have a choice but to do all the work and requirements that it takes to get the badge?! hilarious

    August 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Shuffler

    100 people who attained the eagle scout badge that did not deserve it. Wow.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. sameeker

    why not start a new organization? It could be exactly like the scouts but without the religion.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eagle 76

    One day does not make all the difference in the world, @ "Flutterby". (the day before a childs 18th birthday)
    Many "victims" are actually volunteers. Many 17 yr. olds voliunteer and never report having se x with an old person. They take their statutory raype to the grave with them, keeping it a secret from the police forever. And harboring raypeists in the process.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      If you don't have the wisdon to know the difference, @"Eagle76", you need to stop talking about it. I am talking about the difference between two consenting adults, not a pedophile r a p I n g a child. And you bet your behind there are 17 year olds that DO consent to a realationship with other people, gay or straight, @"Eagle76". Gay does NOT eqaul pedophile, no matter how much you hate gays.

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

      You also need to look up the meaning of the word "volunteer", because used in the context you are using it in is incorrect.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  14. drnight

    They've done their job and served the country for over 100 years. Maybe it's time for the BSA and GSA to fade away. A new American Youth group that is inclusive of male and female and where orientation is no one's business. To teach modern technologies and active coexistence with others.

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

      I'VE GOT IT drnight! The ... wait for it ... OBAMA YOUTH! They can go around harassing the boys and girls that refuse to join.


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

      Why don't you start the gayscouts if that is what you want? Its a free country.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Scott, the fact that you proudly display your BSA "credentials" and post trash like this is exactly why I will never allow my future children into the BSA.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      What's a matter Sam W? Did I cut a little too close to the bone? 😉


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

      Uh, note the fact I said my future children, which should basically spell out to you that I'm very much straight.

      If you mean I'm an Obama supporter, guilty as charged.

      Also, I tend not to be "cut to the bone" by irrelevent bigots. Just a rule of life I have.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tk

    you will be tolerant in the manner in which I tell you. you may have an opinion as long it is the same as mine.

    Is this the GAYway? If not more gay people should speak up.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Yup, you've nailed it on the head. Your observation is EXACTLY what the komrade libs mean when they espouse "tolerance" and "Freedom of Speech." This is why I now spell hypocrite, L-I-B-E-R-A-L.


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