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. jusme101

    more than 100 Eagles have renounced their precious red, white and blue medals..... they sure are turning out the "village id_iots" en masse....

    August 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denver Scout Dad

      How about 'principled young men'. I only see one person throwing around names because they have no coherent thoughts to add to the conversation. It's not these former Eagle Scouts, it's you.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Andy

    Typical. A claim of 10,000 protests. A record of 105. And attention-getting play on CNN. It's a non-story.

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

    Just as I wouldn't want my girl to go on a sleepover with some man being in charge of her, I wouldn't want my boy to go on a sleepover with a gay man being in charge of him.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      Seems you don't know the difference between gay and pedophile, and most abuse occures in the kid's own home. Better look within.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      I bet you would send him over to your priest without second thought though.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michael

    Can you become an eagle scout by turning in your scout master for fondling little boys, thus saving lives and turning in a criminal?

    August 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      If you don't do that without the idea of some type of reward, you're just as bad.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Allan

    By the very name of the organization, it should be universally recognized that only boys and men should be eligible to join the "Boy" scouts organization. No one raises a hell if girls and women are not allowed to join the "Boy" scouts since everyone accepts that women should join the "Girl" scouts. So would gay people accept to be called real "boys" and "men" – as these terms are defined and commonly understood and accepted in society, instead of being called "gay" – as this term is defined and commonly understood and accepted in society. No one is preventing gay people from forming the "LGBT" scouts. Now that the LGBT has accomplished being recognized, in essence, as a separate gender class, should it not also have separate organizations in themselves rather than try to insist that it be accepted in the other gender classes.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JamesFLA

    Please don't let the deviants into the boy scouts. Do we need our boys to look up to those kind of people? They are obviously sick in the head or else they won't be gays. Who knows what else these sickos might do? I don't want to find out when my boy comes home with a sore butt.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • McAfee

      "Sick in the head? LOL. So are bigots.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denver Scout Dad

      5-15% of every mammal population is gay. Yeah, wolves, bison, etc. Genetically, it's like being left handed instead of right handed (or ambidextrous). Nothing deviant or sick about it, if you can get past your ignorance. I think the most disturbing thing is using ugly words to dehumanize people so you have an excuse to hate them. If they were 'sick' in that they had diabetes, would you be so vehemont?

      August 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      It is pretty selfish that you want to see others suffer because of YOUR psychological problems. Gay people aren't the problem, YOU are.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • pattysboi

      GLBT's are NOT "sick in the head". However, BIGOTS are. Get some help.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. peridot2

    What brave men, to return their medals in protest. I admire them for their honesty and courage to stand up in protest with LGBT people.

    I salute you all!

    August 13, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Frank

    People of the United States of America,
    My son was a Boy Scout and thank God none of this BS was an issue 20 years ago because fathers were watching everything done like hawks because we knew what was possible.These Eagle Scouts need to be educated in a room with a Huge Picture of Jerry Sandusky on the wall. The lecturer needs to point out that having people of the GAY Lifestyle as Pack Masters could leave children to be easy prey as in the PENN STATE disaster.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W



      Sandusky was straight, married, with children.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      Jerry Sandusky isn't gay. He's married to a woman. He's a pedophile. And what about lesbians involved with scouting?

      August 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. wolfpackbob

    President Obama believes the Boy Scouts of America are politically incorrect. The rest of America will tell President Obama in November that President Obama is politically incorrect.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sam W

      Seems to me that Obama is leading in the polls. Or does the rest of America only include bigots in your book?

      August 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. larry5

    Now's as good a time as any to see if the BSA stands by their principals. It's something that would never happen in politics but there's hope that the BSA stands their ground.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      There's great hope that they will renounce their dog-eared principles, give up the hatred and discrimination, and join the 21rst centuryy.

      August 13, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Sam W

    I have more of a life than you, of that I can assure you. The fact that I am well-positioned in my life allows me to be politically active. I don't need to work 3 jobs to live plentifully, I don't need the internet for a furfilling relationship, and I don't need an Eagle Scout award to know that I have a Mensa IQ and am in one of the top colleges in the world.

    Also, majority means 50% or more, in case you didn't know. 52% > 50%.

    Oh, and before you make a comment, sorry, I am straight.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Paul Giblin

    The Boy Scouts of America has just as much right as any other organization to decide who can join it's organization and who can't. If you don't happen to agree with their principals and policies, no problem, go somewhere else. Having been a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout from the age of 8 until I was 18, I' will always be a supporter of their policies. Thank goodness none of this craziness was going on when I was growing up!!!

    August 13, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Agreed

      I totally agree. Way to go BSA. At least one organization that will stand it's ground.......And, yes, I am keeping my Eagle Scout award, and even more proudly now......

      August 13, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Maya

      What are you talking about? No one said they didn't have the right. They just said that BSA was wrong for doing it. You have the right to smoke until you die of emphysema. That doesn't mean you SHOULD.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ragster

    Part of the Scout oath is, "and morally straight." Do you expect them to change that to "and morally accepting of any behavior." Not sure what the LGBT group really wants. It appears LGBT bigotry is far more greater than the discrimination they feel. Just read the posts for those who want the change. They spew hatred and call it good. They spew force and call it freedom. LGBT people need to show respect to a differing point of view and show a willingness to accept that difference if they truly want society to accept their perspective. Personally, I have seen the opposite response from this group too often to excuse their behavior.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edward Woltin

      Nicely put.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Truth

      Yes they want to force ignorant rednecks like yourself to treat them like equal humans. Sort of like what black people did 150 years ago. Take out the "LGBT group" and insert "black" in your little rant and and how does that sound? You shouldn't drop the bigot word, bigot

      August 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. clarinet

    Proud Eagle Scout here. Good riddance to those who aren't.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Floridian123

    It's pretty obvious that Sandusky was NOT straight.

    August 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
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