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. Eagle

    "morally straight"

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

      AMEN !!!

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

      Are the leaders of those boys who were abused "morally straight"? Doesn't sound like it to me. Guess it's okay to abuse boys if you have a marriage license to a woman to hide behind, right? More like "morally corrupt" to me.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cliff

    I think it's great what these people are doing. They know the BSA poloc and they know they are unfit and unqualified to wear the badges, so they give them back. Good for them. They recognize their moral failings and the BSA keeps it's morally impeccible reputation intact. Win/Win...

    August 13, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Katie

    A very small percentage of the population are pedophiles, and of them, the vast majority are straight, not gay. Not only does the BSA NOT protect its children from pedophiles, it doesn't prosecute the straight (usually married and upstanding community citizens) pedophiles they have promoted as scout leaders.

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

      Thank you!

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

      Rubbish. BSA has rules and youth protection training required for every adult in scouts. If someone is not getting prosecuted, you can't blame it on the organization.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • McAfee

      WRONG, JD. The BSA have been complicit in cover-ups. Yes, I CAN blame the oranization.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Steve

    “The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.” – Baden Powell.

    It is interesting that Baden Powell does not distinguish straight people as the only "others" one should try to put happiness into the lives of! Hmmmmm........

    August 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. bails

    I am sick, sick, sick of gay being forced down my throat every day! If it's not Chick Fil A, its the BSA. If it's not the BSA, its Joel Ostean. Be gay and shut up. I'm tired of hearing about it!!!!!!!!!!

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

      @Bails... let me guess...straight, white, male....right?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eagle2000

      "I am sick, sick, sick of gay being forced down my throat every day!"

      Sounds like a perosonal problem to me.

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

      Eagle2000, it is a societal problem

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

      Gay being forced down your throat? Do you re4alize how that sounds?

      August 13, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denver Scout Dad

      You know, gay people aren't asking for anything more than inclusion. As long as there is injustice, some of us will speak out. I'm straight with two sons, one of whom is in scouts. I want him to learn morality and leadership. The BSA is not demonstrating either with this policy.

      August 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. duh

    heres where the children set the example for the old folks...kudos kids

    August 13, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Pditty

    We enjoy the privileged to associate in freedom with others we freely want to. If you want to start and organization like the scouts except has the rules you want nothing is stopping you. Why is it so important for the Gay community to force its beliefs on others? You don't see strait people forcing into Gay groups. Sad that respect doesn't run both ways.

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

      @Pditty...why can't people like you understand the massive difference between "forcing its beliefs on you" and just wanting equality?

      Its really bizarre and kind of makes me think people like you aren't that bright.

      For example, you are forcing the belief on everyone that gays are bad and do not deserve the same rights as others, while what all gays just want is just to be treated equally. Does that make sense to you?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tyler

    We will see the day where good is called evil and evil is called good, truly we are seeing this unfold right before our eyes. The BSA is standing up for the morals and principles that once were and in my very strong opinion should always be. To ban such a thing is a representation that speaks volumes in regards to the young men that see what the BSA stands for. The BSA is not putting a ban on individuals, they are putting a ban on an individuals lifestyle choice.

    Marriage is to be between man and a woman and it seems that if someone is to firmly state this eternal principle they are labeled a bigot. Stand up for what the BSA is doing for young people all over the world and stand down for what you feel they are not doing. Glass half full..............................

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

      50 years ago, you would have been the person protesting the marriage of blacks to whites. You make me sick. Good and evil are relative, so, no, the interpretations of your book by Catholic preachers are not the be-all-end-all definition of good and evil.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Sandra Shill

    The BSA doesn't just discriminate against gays and lesbians, they also won't allow atheists as members of their organization. I stopped supporting them a long time ago (specifically excluding them from my United Way donations), once I learned of their discriminatory policies.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eagle2000

      Last I heard this was still a free country, allowing private groups to choose who they support and who they want to leave out.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Umm... the BSA recieves free land use from... you guessed it!

      The government!

      (which means it's not completely private, in case you didn't catch that.)

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

      Did you EVER think to ask Why would a Christian based organization allow an atheist membership. Fox in the hen house it's just that simple.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. HGB

    This was reported LAST WEEK. I guess CNN doesn't think it got enough mileage last week...

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

      hey – CNN has an agenda they gotta promote, ya know!

      August 13, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. brianNH

    I'd tell them to SMD, but that's probably just what they're hoping to hear

    August 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  12. roland

    as an eagle scout myself i am torn about sending back my eagle scout award. my family sacrificed to allow me to participate in scouts... yet they also did so because they wanted to instill in me values that would mold me into the man i am today. ideally i would get reinvolved with scouting and change it "from the inside out" and not send it back but I don't see that happening... I think i will make a small change and remove it from my resume.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      You lose nothing by sending it back, besides the physical manifestation. You will never lose the honor of that being granted to you, even if it is somewhat tarnished by this whole ordeal.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bob Loblaw

    So, a group is protesting an organization that seeks to exclude its members by refusing to participate in it? This should get their attention all right!

    August 13, 2012 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Um, most of the protesting Scouts are straight... so basically, yeah, it will get their attention.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • BD

      Not even close. Did you read the article?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. al

    let the gays have some fun making new friends. lol

    August 13, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Force

    Perhaps Jesus should have forced his views and his commands. Perhaps he will soon. Perhaps with a sword and an army of angels for the slaughtering of his father's enemies.
    Perhaps Jesus isn't everyones friend after all. Perhaps he will bring to ruin those ruining this earth.

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

      Jesus loves me too! But, I heard you can get a chicken sandwich with that badger!!

      August 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • fintastic

      And perhaps there is no Jesus, no god, no heaven and it's all just a bunch of fairytale myths?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • NFL

      Jesus preached love for everyone, and support and community help for poor and disadvantaged – one would never know his real values and teachings based on the so-called behavior of Christians of this century!! He would not be taken seriously, and be shunned and banned by today's Christians!

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