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 - IÂ respectfullyÂ 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 toÂ and depriving these kidsÂ of potentially great ones because ofÂ the adultâ€™sÂ sexual orientation is wrong," Peck wrote.
Related story: Obama disagrees with BSA gay banÂ
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."
Shame on you. You hate them because they're different. You are different, too.
Loki, do you think that you have a cool Norse god name makes YOU any less in the closet? Come out...you protest too much.
You've picked a good name for yourself here–all should know that Loki was the trouble maker amongst the Norse Gods, he was a shape shifter and eventually was bound by the other gods with the entrails of one of his own sons. Loki was capricious and cunning. And, Loki was also a thief who stole Thor's hammer. He had a fitting end too, as there was a serpent suspended over his head that dripped venom and every drop that hit him caused him to write in pain. Good choice in names, it appears to fit.
Lets end everything Boy Scouts, and I mean all programs.
Loki say FU disgusting pedophiles. Loki will do everything in his power to discredit the gay non-life-style. All you perverts ever want to do is get near kids....just like the gay priests. No way. My children are taught to avoid you. All I ever had to do was tell them what you stand for and what you do with each other. They couldn't believe it !!! They are forever totally revolted by your non-life style and disgusting behavior. GO BOY SCOUTS ! Answer any questions that you may have McAfee Bruce FloridaBill ?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Pull Thor's hammer outcha, why don't you???
How much of a fall is it going to be when your children find out you've been living a lie, Poki?
As a result of reading this article today, I will be returning my 1992 Eagle Scout award to the BSA in protest. I will not support an organization that condones discrimination and bigotry.
EagleScout PA...Please remove all the semen and feces from your awards. The Boy Scouts revere cleanliness.
Why do fornicators think they have the right
to impose their beliefs on everyone?
If you don't like what the Boy Scouts (or any other organization) are doing
go somewhere else
Where do you think kids come from? The cabbage patch? Somebody fornicated somewhere!
Maybe they prefer Bidets to urinals, like they installed on navy ships.
uplain old toilets on the ships, no bidets. Where do you get your info from? A comic book? Sheeeeesh!
Keep turning your Eagle Scout Badges in if you feel that way, I'm sure they will recycle quickily. Don't ask, don't tell.
I support all Eagle Scouts
An extremely small percentage of Eagle Scouts returning their awards. Not much of a story here!
There is if your agenda is to fan the flames of hate.
Otherwise, move along everyone. Show's over. Move along...
Correct. We do not need the same problem in the Scouts as we had in the lavender catholic priesthood.
The snowball isn't all the way down the mountain yet. Besides, in only took this many to create press coverage and that affects everyone that reads it in one way or another, whether they were ever a scout or not.
I feel that Gay community is getting overly sensitive! This is a 2nd such case after Chic-Fil-A. I support their right to marriage. However, I do not support them coming close to kids.
I am a single straight male. It has heppened numerous times to me that Gay males would made advances to me even while walking on the street, or in the bars etc even while I'm minding my own business and not even looking at them! Have we all not experienced this?
What is the guarantee that they will not do the same to innocent kids in the camp?
A very small percentage of Boy Scouts are Eagle scouts so it does matter for one reason. These Eagle Scouts are part of the 2% of scouts that have ever earned that badge and have given their young life to live it. They have upheld those values undoubtedly. I feel bigotry in America is increasing and gays are made to look like the perverts of "reefer madness"
With that said I do agree that the BOA is a private organization and has rights. Although I don't agree with their view I agree with their right because I am an American something undoubtedly taught to me by the BOA.
Furthermore, I was in the scouts and planned on putting my son in the scouts. I am saddened that I can not, anymore, bring myself to buy their awesome popcorn or support them in any way. BOA, you have tarnished yourself and I won't forget unless you change.
Most of these quotes make gays look like pedophiles. So there should be no more den Mother's as they would fornicate with boys? I'm not tracking unless you are saying that gay men love little boys. If that's what you are saying then I laugh. Pedophilia is a mental disease as is schizophrenia.
Now if you are talking about gay and straight boys bunking together than we can look at the Department of Defense for a precedent.
Im just confused why everyone is afraid of gay people.
It's called standing up against an organization that betrays the values that you have always believed in.
trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful,
thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent
These are common values for people. I'm saddened.
With all of the problems in the world, and in the US specifically, this is the fight these people pick? Pathetic.
This is a fight that people can actually make a difference in. Do you expect the average citizen to end the conflicts in the middle east? Sure they can protest or write letters or even form groups to help promote peace, but won't really do anything in reality. Protesting smaller issues means you get real results. Putting together many real little changes ends up changing the world for the better.
With all of the problems in the world, and in the US specifically...why should people really give a hoot about whether someone prefers to love or marry someone of the same gender?
I like women. Does that mean that you can't leave me alone with a little girl? Sorry, not my thing. There is a difference.
Not with my daughter you reprobate!
What is it with the comments that have absolutely NOTHING to do with the article?? Oh, and just so my comments DO pertain to the article, these eagle scouts are to be commended for standing up for what they believe to be right.
I WAS proud of my Eagle Award. But the BSA can have it back as I don't associate with organizations that discriminate!
Great! Send it back!
Would like the address or are you just talkin' big behind that computer screen?