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. MrCrabs

    The Supreme Court has already ruled that private organizations may determine their own policies. Keeping your word, being committed, standing up for truth when all others want you to lie or compromise, being willing to sacrifice self if necessary, and other ideals are part of the hard earned award; not just 21 merit badges. I've received mine in 1969 and have felt motivated to re-earn it ever since. Over 200,000,00 boys have passed through the program. Of which, slightly over 2,000,000 have earned the award. Anyone who wants to give it back has broken the Eagle Scout Oath made at their Court of Honor. If you want change, do it it the right and honorable way within the system.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      The BSA is not completely private. How much do you think they pay for land use? Zero, in most cases. So the government has a stake in this.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Corbin82

      Actually, that isn't what the Supreme Court ruled. You're confusing cases. They ruled that if hating someone is so central to your organization's mission than you can keep someone out. So the Boy Scouts put themselves in company of white supremacy groups, etc. Whereas the Jaycees were forced to allow women in their club.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • David

      Now there is slightly less than 2 million that "earned" it. And these heros are making change, one person at a time. I salute them.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • CW

      Violated their oath of honor? On the contrary, these men did the most honorable thing: they let go of something of deep personal meaning in the name of what they felt was right and for the benefit of others.

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


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

      Then stay ouit of it!

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

    The Boy Scouts don't get it, it's not the openly gay men and women you have to fear or protect your scouts from, it is the hidden pedophiles, the ones who are married, but lust after young children. While you are putting the openly gay men under the microscope, Mr. Upright and Moral is out there messing with your kids. Pedophiles go where the kids are, parks, schools, scouts, church groups, sport teams.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. michaell

    Years ago when this same subject was brought up there was outrage and great cries for a new organization that would take all kinds religious or not, Gay or not. Why haven't these organizations been created where are all the local chapters. If they would spend their time and energy in building their own PRIVATE groups and STOP trying to change other PRIVATE groups they could have the own by now. No, for it is better to force change the way people think then work hard to create your own. GO BS stay true to your values and your GOD.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee Levy

      My God loves everyone!

      August 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rex

    Another misguided and meaningless act of protest. At the end of the day we will forget all of you, and you won't be an Eagle scout. Who cares? Now, do you have the courage of your convictions, and do you swear that you will never list "Eagle Scout" on a job application or resume again? Time to put up or shut up, guys.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Yeah! Everyone also forgot the sit-ins during the '60's and Rosa Parks!

      Oh wait.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Frank

    I was in the BSA years ago, in the 1970's.

    You should have heard them screaming about letting Blacks join the scouts. You would have thought it was the end of the world and the end of the BSA having to let 'them' join. In the end, we got a bunch of new good scouts and the BSA looked like a bunch of racist bigoted goons.

    40 years from now they will look back and wonder why they felt the need to make themselves look like a bunch of bigoted idiots yet again.

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

      I too was in during the late 60's and early 70's. However, I don't remember ANY "screaming about letting Blacks join the scouts". Now you wouldn't be a Soros Troll just excreting lies now would you?

      Note that during the 70's the BSA did try to appease the komrade libs. However, by the 90's the BSA realized that komrade libs can never be appeased unless the appeaser goes more to the left than the komrade libs. At that point the BSA returned to their roots of being "physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."


      August 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • McAfee

      Oh, I remember it, Scott, but your use of the ridiculous term "comrade libs" just brought home for me why YOU likely DON'T remember.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. wow

    I was a gay scout and never had a problem. Found out years later my friends father messed around with little boys but he is married so he still qualified as a scout leader. No one found out until his son exposed him years later.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Thankfully they have programs and policies in place to address that issue (the latter issue you mentioned).

      August 13, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    Maybe there should be a GBSA for the gays. I was in the boy scouts in the 60's and when you took a shower, you took a shower together in an open locker room. I don't know if things have changed, but I wouldn't want a gay kid checking out my junk, it's seems a little creepy. It's ok to be gay and I have two friends that are and they are very nice, but I don't want to take a shower with them and they don't what to take one with me either. We talk about some of this stuff and laugh about it. They are cool guys.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Force

    We are talking about men who scout boys, NOT men who scout men. While most of US find the idea of two grown men sodomizing each other to be totally disgusting, ALL of US find the idea of an openly gay religious leaders stalking boys and having affairs with just boys. And then filing for bankruptcy protection when courts award the victims! (12 RC Archdiocese have filed for bancrupty after losing court battles vs. raype victims)

    August 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lesbian Terri

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

      I'm sure most men find the idea of sodomizing you disgusting too. Bigots are never good in bed.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • McAfee

      Terri: Huh. Just read the link; thanks! Walks like a duck...

      August 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jessie Pinkman

    Yo! Why don't the gays just create their own "Gay Scouts of America". With pink uniforms. It sounds like a win-win for everybody. If they don't like the heat, they should get out of the kitchen.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  11. flatbushfred

    Good for you, guys!!!! This must have been a very difficult thing to do, but it shows a lot of character, certainly more than any BSA merit badge could ever convey. Nicely done!!!!

    August 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. lexxius

    I wonder why nobody screams bloody murder tha there are no grls accepted into Boy Scouts – cleraly they hate them and discriminate as well.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

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

      August 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Adam

      well, apparently pedophiles are only gay males. obviously straight men don't ever leer at young girls. what a sick country we live in that in 2012 it is still ok to discriminate about such bs. how about just banning pedophiles??????????

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

    Just don't bannish your dregs of society to Australia again.
    We have enough of our own creamy babies, ty. And keep your butt babies to yourself also. ty

    August 13, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      "Creamy babies"? Is that a dessrt, or do you mean bi-racial children? Are you one of THOSE that oppose bi-racial relationships??

      August 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John

    Does anyone ELSE see the problem with young gay boys and/or gay male scout leaders here? For gods sake, why parade the lambs in front of the lions. Like the military, this is not going to end well.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • termlimits

      Depends on which end you're on!!

      August 13, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      There has been some issue with the military? Seems they are running along just fine... even with people being openly gay.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • diane

      you are a complete idiot. go take your medication and crawl back under your rock. what a moron.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • RC Roeder

      Please do not confuse being gay and being a pedifile the same. They are not.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nan Owens

    In addition to discriminating against gays, BSA also denies membership to non-believers–agnostics and atheists. Since a majority of scientists are nonbelievers, I guess they don't qualify for this organization.

    Neither the Girl Scouts nor Campfire has this requirement. Obviously they have found that people outside BSA's narrow definition can lead ethical, useful, humane lives.

    August 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • SeeThruIt2

      Scout Troops require sponsorship by an organization that provides a meeting place and fund raising oppotunities.

      Girl Scout use elementary schools and sell GSA cookies in front of supermarkets. Most boy scout troops depend on churches for thier sponsorship of a meeting place.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura

      Hi Nan... its me Laura. How are you?

      August 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      And sell popcorn door-to-door. Don't forget that. And for an organization who claims to be not Christian-based, they sure are biased.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Alex

      Huh? I'm agnostic and also an Eagle Scout...

      Not once in my 11 years as an cub scout/boy scout was I asked what my faith was or forced to attend a religious service.

      So much for your theory. You can be reverent without a religion. None of the other Scout laws have anything to do with spirituality.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
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