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. floridasboy

    If they are swayed by the opinions of such a few, then they were never an eagle to begin with and never should have been awarded the rank. 100 years of service and honor... to be beleaguer by some sodomites. Never give in.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Earnest T Bass

    Dear BSA: As a proud former Eagle Scout who was tempted by a gay adult Scout Master and others he was unfortunately successful with another handful of other fellow Scouts for many years. In the 1960's and 1970's no kids would talk about this, it shamed us and we felt dirty. In my late 50's it's still hard to talk about it. I won't send my medal back, took too long and too much work to get it. But it was because of Scouting that made me know what morally straight meant. Don't change the standards. Let them start their own club.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • oj

      Earnest, you are confusing "gay" with "pedophile". What you should be concerned with, is banning pedophiles from scouting. There are plenty of pedophile priests, but you don't see people crying to ban "straight men" from holding that "position".

      August 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • cynthia

      You were victimized by a pedophile, not anyone gay. It's about time all you who have chosen to be ignorant to take the time you use to attack and get the truth about the difference between pedophiles and gays. Gays are not attacted to children, fact.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Portland tony

    Back in the day, this issue was never brought up since nobody was gay. They were all in a closet somewhere. And that being said, there were no merit badges or scouting subsets that had anything to do with s*x. My scoutmaster and assistant were regular army, positively straight, yet strange in a way I only found out about when I left scouting as an eagle in my early teens. These "leaders", now deceased, were rank and file Peds, and apparently got it on with a few of the troop members, who ironically laughed about it when we were in college. So the world is strange, where up means down and so on. But I can assure you there were no gays around when I was a scout..But Peds..there was a bunch!

    August 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Michelle

    Sam W....please look up The Summit Betchel Boy Scout Reserve...that is where the 2013 Jamboree will be held.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maynard

    Gays are mentally screwed-up in every way possible. When are all of you going to finally admit it?

    August 13, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      NO moronard – YOU are the screwed up one – with an insecurity complex a mile wide!

      August 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • dude

      When it becomes true? So... never.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • FarLeft

      If you were in-front-of me now, this conversation would be taking a VERY different tone. I have no patience for small-minded, knuckle-dragging in-breds.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • mistamista

      Immediately after you admit that there is no "god", guns DO kill people and poverty is a punishment for not working yourself to death. Yep, that should do it.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • AnniMaynard

      Do you really believe that, Brad. If so, you are a severely confused person.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • vp

      wow. that's really ignorant.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy

      Actually, you are the one that needs help.

      August 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Eagle87

    I haven't seen thousands giving up their awards, at last count there were 105. Also, I don't see honorable young men returning them, but older perverts that should be stripped of such an award and kept away from our moral young men and future leaders. Being right isn't always the easy road, we all have choice, some just choose poorly and blame it on "the way they were born" we were all born with a choice. should we excuse murders and rapist because "they were born that way and they couldn't help it". I think not

    August 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      I'll bet you were one of those losers that never got a merit badge – let alone eagle scout. probably a pathetic porker !

      August 13, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • FarLeft

      You are a disgrace. You should be ashamed of yourself.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Taskmaster

      Eagle87 , I agree with you 100% . I would also say that the "gays" are trying to strip everyone else of their right of choice. If a private club or person chooses not to associate with them they say that we do not have that right. They have chosen their own life style.They should leave others alone who do not want to be associated with them.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BSAfail

    Just disband this organization I never learned anything from it and make every american boy/girl to serve 4 years in the Military once you turn 18. You will learn how to be a leader and you will help your nation, not just your community which the BSA promotes.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ben

      What do you mean you never learned anything? Your troop must have sucked. And forcing people to join the military would cause problems like no tomorrow. Just look what happened when we drafted people during the Vietnam War. Perhaps installing more citizen-centric teachings at school, and a stronger physical activity requirements is a better idea. Not that I'm against joining the military since I want to be an Army Surgeon.

      August 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  8. confused

    I like how they omitted the actual number of people that get Eagle Scout every year and just left it at 5%. Last I saw it was multiple thousands of people, each year. And we have 100 that have returned them.

    This is a made up story.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • ddimon

      It says 105 in the story

      August 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jim

    Two interesting points here:
    1) Clearly the LGBT folks are grossly exaggerating the number of people who've done this.

    2) I would be REALLY interested to know how many of the folks (especially the younger ones) who renounced and returned their Eagle award have taken it off their resumes. Making a pompous statement and mailing back a ribbon and or certificate are one thing - refusing the job/scholarship benefit something like an Eagle can provide, is quite another. If they don't do both, then they're just sad hypocrites.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ArizonaYankee

    These kids are grossly mislead. The Boy Scouts don't need them and the Country don't need them. They are part of a very destructive lost cause...

    August 13, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  11. captiosus

    As an Eagle Scout who VEHEMENTLY disagrees with the National Council's policy, I'm only going to say this:

    Dear "renouncing" Eagles, What do you think you're going to accomplish? Besides getting media attention, which this case already has enough of, renouncing your Eagle Scout rank (if you TRULY renounce it instead of just do it symbolically) isn't going to change anything. You're merely removing yourself from ever being able to change the program because this is a case where change can ONLY come from within. External pressures will do little to nothing to affect change.

    Instead of renouncing your rank, stay active in the program and teach the boys to think for themselves rather than allow groupthink to perpetuate from Irving, Texas. That's the only way things will change. Otherwise, you're just throwing away an accomplishment for nothing.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bugler

      I agree. "Renouncing" the Eagle award is a cheap publicity stunt. It take no effort or commitment. Changing and improving an organization comes from within. True Eagle Scout Scouts should have learned that reaching the goal take time, effort, commitment, and working with others. These jokers should have never been awarded the Eagle.

      Unfortunately, BSA's decisions are being driven by lawyers. This is similar to many youth organizations today – BSA is simply the largest. BSA has paid tens of millions of dollars in damages due to young Scouts abused by gay leaders. It will take time, commitment and energy to change BSA to show that the organization can accept gay and lesbian leaders without fear of million dollar lawsuits.

      August 13, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Taskmaster

    to; BSAfail, You sound just like Adolf Hitler anf Josef Gobbles. If some organizationdisagrees with you .Get rid of it No one has a right to their choices but you . Well heres a middle finger scout salute to you.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jim A

    Lets remember that the BSA have had multiple charges brought against them for having inappropiate relationships with minor children. So i for one am not worried about gay people wanting to join the BSA.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eagle2005

    I received my Eagle Scout on January 16, 2005. I remain a Boy Scout leader in the troop I received Eagle and am proud to say that my troop has been an outstanding troop in helping fine young men achieve goals in life. That being said, our committee has discussed this issue and has chosen to not follow the BSA's policy on banning gay scouts and adults because we do not believe that a boy should be punished simply because of what gender they are attracted to.

    August 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    Why doesn't CNN do an article about the Scouts who are keeping their badges?

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