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. Nik without a C

    Discrimlnation is what everyone faces, I face it everyday. Being Gay is even harder. If you had say that to the Gay community they would have been at your doorstep and thrown rotten eggs for all the bad comments. As a Former Welblow and Pine Wood Derby contestant, Look under the first Amendment and what these Guys did was right and I believe that by turning in all the Merit badges, that is the true Merit to stand up and Get BSA to stop Bullying the Gay people. Enough Said.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Interested reader

    The Boy Scouts are pretty clear about what their beliefs and standards are, and they have every right to run their organization as they see fit. No one has to join the Scouts if they don\'t want to adhere to this; no one forced these individuals into the Scouts (or at least I hope not). It would be like trying to break down GLAAD for not having a Catholic priest on its board. Time to tone down the rhetoric, folks need to get educated and make educated choices rather than put the blame on a group for running the way it sees fit, this goes for everyone either way

    August 13, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • curiousdwk

      Yes, the Boy Scouts have every right to run their organization as they see fit. But that also means they do not have the right to claim that they are encouraging the youth to accept the ideals or values of this country. They cannot claime to be a patriotic organization or to espouse patriotism. They are only promoting their own bigoted beliefs and values and not the values of this country.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • GMC123

      Boy and Girl Scouts HAVE specific standards, always have. But I agree, the bullying is one thing that goes against their values and it's always went on. When I was a girl scout (many years ago) I was bullied, and so were others. There always seemed to be an older clique that the scout leader would just turn her back and allow it to happen.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Skew

    The scout law says that a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, thrifty, cheerful, brave, clean and reverent and the oath is just that, an oath to an organization with certain beliefs. Whether gay or not, a person who denounces the BSA for their honest and upfront beliefs is a hypocrite..a bigot in disguise. How can you tell children it is okay to stand up for anything when you are constantly telling them that they have to accept everything? No wonder society as a whole is falling apart.

    The oath says to be "morally straight" with the following where does it preach hate or bigotry...

    To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.

    I, just like the BSA, respect G&L rights and will defend all people with my life, but that doesn't mean I have to agree with your lifestyle or let you into my chartered association. If you want to be in the organization, abide by its rules; otherwise, shut the f up and get on with your life.

    The world has seen your types are just like those who allowed Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao etc... to come to power and kill millions. If you don't stand for anything, you will eventually be trampled under the boots of tolerance.

    August 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • edwardo69

      @Skew – Your post is psychotic drivel. You learned nothing about kindness, consideration... If that's what values you took away from the BSA, glad they don't want me in!

      August 13, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MontanaTrace

    Difficult conflict. Science is showing gay/lesbian is not a choice. One's religion says the acts associated are a sin. I think any private group should have the freedom to follow their doctrine, even if it doesn't seem fair.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Science right, blow me, swallow don't spit and I'll still desire a woman tomorrow, A CHOICE!!!!

      August 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Everything you do is a choice. Your personality might be controlled somewhat by biology but you acting on it is a choice.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ss

    Come on BSA don't lie, you know your numbers do not add up. Didn't you learn that lying is wrong in the boy scouts.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Bill

    The Boy Scouts are one of the last groups to have standards and stand up for them. GOOD FOR THEM. Being mad at them or turning in your Eagle because you don't like a long standing rule requiring that the leaders live a moral lifestyle is just plain idiotic. It's like an atheist being mad because the Catholic church won't let them be a priest.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • curiousdwk

      No, the anger is in the hypocrisy of the Boy Scouts. If the Boy Scouts claim to promote patriotism and love for their country, they are hypocrites. They are only promoting blind adherence to their own values – not the values of this country. The Boy Scouts are not patriotic and can't claim to be as long as they promote a "less" image of those who are gay. That is anti-American values.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickmonkey3

      sir you make perfect sense

      August 13, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. edwardo69

    I sin as much as I can everyday. That way, he didn't die for nothing.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mama for Obama

    I will never support the Boy Scouts again until they change their policy. Gay people are our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, co-workers, neighbors, etc. Come on! America is for everybody!

    August 13, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dana

      Death and add women who commit patricide, I hope that's the word, abortions for the fun of it.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Another Brick in the Wall

      It is what it is Mama, Don't like it, don't join it !!!

      August 13, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • sickmonkey3

      you do realize that they are the reason for GRID/AIDS/HIV right?

      August 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Big Scout

    If you don't like it don't join. it is a free country.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Another Brick in the Wall

    Just another white lie tald by the GBL community. Just like the great chick filet kissin that never materialized, they depend on media to give the illusion of mass support. And usually, the media and Progressive Democrats are happy to provide cover and create hatred amongst the American people.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • edwardo69

      Oh wow.. you ate a chicken sandwich. Such ACTIVISM! Oh my... I think I'll just change my ways immediately, so the public doesn't line up to buy chicken sandwiches.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Big Scout

    Dear Mama for Obama. America is for everyone. you are correct. The boy scout are not it is a private organization. If you don't like it don't join. if you don' want to live the lifestyle or meet the standards they set then poof be gone

    August 13, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      "respect and defend the rights of all people."

      Yet another organization that doesn't even follow its own rules. Big scout thinks that people, including Scouts who have sworn to uphold the above quoted rule, should just ignore this hypocrisy. He's a part of the problem and doesn't even know it.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • inkybme1

      Big Scout – I agree with you 100%. Private companies and private organizations have the right to create their own rules. If people don't like the rules, don't buy anything from the company or try to join the organization. Gays are a minority and it is ridiculous for private company or private organization to bend over backwards to accomodate a tiny group of people. There is nothing preventing gays from starting their own organization. If a gay couple wants to raise a child, it is a decision they made knowing very well that the child would have a difficult life. How does a child explain to their classmates that he/she has 2 mommies or daddies? The Boy Scouts have been around for more than 100 years and gay parents want them to change their rules? It was the gay parents that put their child in this position. Boy Scouts of America, stick by your rules. Gotta run down to Chick-Fil-A.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  12. rick1948

    Looks like they teach Boy Scouts how to think for themselves – good.

    August 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. J.s

    I applaud the BSA for their stance. Sick and tired of all the immorality that is accepted these days! Also sick and tired of groups sharing their beliefs and when another group shares their beliefs that contradicts the other groups beliefs, they themselves become intolerant!

    August 13, 2012 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • rick1948

      Immorality as defined by who – you? Or that whispy character in the sky that no one has ever seen or heard.

      August 13, 2012 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Janeyk

      So you recoginize that BSA is intolerant. Perhaps there is hope for you afterall!

      August 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • James PDX

      Actually, it's the Boy Scouts' beliefs which are contradicting their own beliefs. You can't have a rulebook that demands you respect and defend the rights of all people if that's not what you are going to do. You have to amend it to read, "respect and defend the rights of all people who conform to our way of thinking".

      August 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      so tired of people who think they know what is moral or immoral, and that everyone else is wrong. And don't throw the bible at me unless you are willing to absolutely support everything in it–stoning of adulterers or whatever.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
  14. gdaym8

    If the Scouts don't accept gays. How come they have "We-blows"............Isn't that what most of them do?

    August 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve-O

    Good for them. Returning their Eagle ranks demonstrates leadership, integrity, and the unwillingness to accept bigotry or prejudice in any form.

    August 13, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Report abuse |
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