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. mfstout

    Proud of those Scouts. Ashamed of the BSA. The organization will continue to remain silent because hatred, ignorance and intolerance feel more comfortable in the dark.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Babyboomer

      I so very much disagree. That kid in the picture doesn't even LOOK like a male. Boy Scouts are for young MEN. Not men that want to be girls.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • yepyep

      says who, you

      August 14, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. TomNPitt

    Yes BSA – just let in who you want and who you feel is worthy of your status. Oh yea – return anything the Federal Government has given you in the last five years. I know you don't want or need it. Do't back down now!!

    August 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Samuel R. Preston, III

    I am returning my award, too. Well in my case I made it myself out of mashed potatoes so it might not have as much meaning to some people...but it does to me. I love mashed potatoes.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. andyoo

    you join the christian boy scout club and want to be gay?
    why don't you join the muslims and then after want to drink alcohol all year and have affairs with other women?
    don't join if you don't agree with their values.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I agree 1000 %

      August 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • jake


      you don't know anything about the bsa orginazation, do you.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tombo

      Kudo's totally agree.Wouldn't allow my son to join if it were oherwise!

      August 13, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rudolph Hess

      The boy scouts aren't christian – they're supposed to be about tolerance acceptance and fairness – for all religions and people. Are you saying that to be a christian you must be intolerant unaccepting and unfair? Maybe you ARE right! Sounds like Obamacare to me to. Lets ship out all gay black brown yellow and non christian people back to um uh where we sending them?.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andres

      You can be Christian and gay or lesbian, you ignorant. Besides, the BSA is not about religion but about leadership and work to accomplish goals. At least that was my experience.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      Are you really under the impression that all Christians are anti-gay? Think again.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lesbian Terri

      According to the values of the Founder of the Boy Scout:
      The Boy Scouts of America are hypocrites...

      August 13, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denver Scout Dad

      Lord Baden-Powell, who founded scouting, was actually more of a nature-worshipper than a christian. BSA accepts all faiths, by the way, calling it christian is inaccurate. Of course they do not tolerate lack of belief in a god, and so are bigoted on this second issue as well.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark

    Here we go again being force fed the gay agenda. If ya don't like the policy, don't join. Point Blank PERIOD! Start your own organization.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      The BSA are not being force-fed the "Gay agenda" whatever that is. They are being pressured by their own members to change their policies. There is a big difference here that seems to have escaped many of you.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom

      Mark you are so right. What hypocrites they are. Scout have the right to be straight, fell straight and not be pressured by a few extremely active and overbearing gay activist.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Richard

    It figures that it would be the scouts themselves who would drag their leaders kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denver Scout Dad

      Richard, I agree 100%. That is exactly what is happening. As a parent and leader in the BSA, I have spoken up on this. It may mean that I am no longer allowed to participate in leadership. So be it.

      August 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. hop

    maybe some enterprising scouts who want to earn their eagle badges could submit their badge projects: plans to support equality issues in the boy scouts at both federal and state levels.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. israel

    the scouts are a private organization, they do not HAVE to allow gays or lesbians into their ranks and i RESPECT their decision not to do so, i do not agree with it, but it is not my right to say what they can and cannot do....that is their right alone

    it is my hope that one day the scouts will allow gays and lesbians into their ranks, but they alone have to make that decision and putting pressure on them is not the right way to do it

    August 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • AnEagle

      Well stated. My feelings exactly.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • jake


      just wondering if you would have the same opinion if the bsa orginazation restricted black or jewish members?

      August 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • lefty

      they are having pressure put on them by their own members.....I would say that is the "right" way to do it

      August 13, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      israel, thank you. While I don't agree with you about the future of the BSA, I do agree that they are a private organization and have the right to refuse to allow gays and lesbians. The problem is that, if you disagree with the gay/lesbian agenda, you are pegged as a hater. That is what I mean about this being force fed down our throats. I personally don't care what the gay and lesbian community do. But, don't try and force the rest of the country to agree with your "or else". It is our choice to not agree.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      That is the way it IS now.......... they have the right to do whatever. Things will change – when all the old fart republicans die and young people start voting!

      August 13, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. AnEagle

    I am a 33 year old Eagle Scout. So, I received my award a decade before this hot button issue arose. And, I am proud of my achievement. Personally, I do not care whether gay kids join scouts and even become Eagles. It is a process of maturing that could benefit all boys race/creed/orientation. However, the Boy Scouts is a private organization. Why does it have to act any way other than how it decides. If you don't like its morals, then don't participate. Heck, go out and form your own organization. Nobody is stopping you.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rudolph Hess

      For a 33 year old boy scout you should move out of your parents basement and stop playing computer games. Let the boy scouts who routinely haze the younger kids with rampant bullying stop taking government tax breaks as a non profit. Drink form the government teat then play by the rules. They used to keep out black and hispanic kids. Bet you were for that one too ! Get a JOB!

      August 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Congress is stopping people from creating their own "boy scout" program because they've given special privileges to the BSA such as copy rights to the term, based on them being a "public" organization.

      Other privileges include:
      Public funding from HUD
      Use of public schools and libraries for their meetings (Why doesn't a private organization like the KKK get this?)
      The list goes on...

      If they are a "private" organization they should not be able to claim public, because this policy does not serve the public.

      Furthermore as a former eagle scout I was taught valuable tenets like honor, tolerance, and respect in the boy scout program. There is no honor, tolerance or respect in the BSA's policy of exclusion. Only the opposite.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ricke1949

    The Catholic church had problems with young men and priests. Tent camping is putting young men in precarious situation.
    If the gays want to form their own organization, we are a free country. Defining hate as opposed to someones values is the ultimate hate.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • NotConservative

      That's nonsense. Slavery was also once justified with the Bible.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rudolph Hess

      Dont the boy scouts have the same "priest like" problems. Maybe the gay kids would be safer out side of the "boy" scouts.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • tom-ay

      sounds like you are confusing gay with pedophillia. the majority of pedophiles are straight. just like the majority of serial killers are straight men. just like the majority of deaths in the world have results as a result of white people and their religion. who should we be afriad of?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      yeah rickie – all those divorced child abusers that run the BSA now ............ status quo.......

      August 13, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NotConservative

    Kudos to these Eagle Scouts willing to take a stand against hatred. There should be a badge!!

    August 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. the dude

    "Over 100" renounce their badges.

    Meanwhile, another 100.000 decide to keep theirs...

    August 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Babyboomer

      Exactly. Big whoop.

      August 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      the 100 was the BSA source – others claim a much larger number. I wonder – do ya think the BSA would REALLY report anything else?

      August 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. John

    I did not join the Al Qaeda because I do not believe in their values. Don't join the boy scouts if you don't believe in theirs. It's really THAT simple. Don't cry about it later and waste everybody's time !!!!

    August 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Interesting comparison.....

      August 13, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ross

      BLAH BLAH BLAH johnnie..... go beat your kids again!

      August 13, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • sqeptiq

      "Traditionally, Scouting's highest rank has benefited college applicants and job seekers as a sign of a hard-working, goal-oriented character."
      Deny some kids the same opportunity as others. That's why!

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

    If you don't like whats on TV, change the channel. You don't like the President/Congress, vote them out. You don't like the Boy Scouts policy then DON'T JOIN.

    I will not return my Eagle Scout badge over something this stupid. I worked hard to earn. The Eagle Rank means something to me. Not some stupid political gesture.

    Especially CNN again being one-sided..... Why do I bother continuing to read this drivel? SMH.

    August 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • MarkinFL

      Both of your examples suggest changing what is wrong.... Then you suggest apathy for this case?

      August 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Thinker

      Thomas, do you know the difference between between a political gesture, and a stand for what is right? I don't think so. Please learn the difference.

      August 13, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. djh

    That's funny – I wasn't aware that one had a 'right' to be a scout leader, or even a scout for that matter.
    The thing that amazes me about this issue isn't the passions on both sides, it's the deceitful manner in which the 'conversation' is taking place, and the medias utter lack of integrity shines through on this issue.
    You are expected to completely support, respect and accept their entire agenda – they on the other hand refuse to accept or respect your opinion!

    August 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • nolapearl

      One of the Scout rules is: "respect and defend the rights of all people." The Scouts seem to be violating their own rules. Too bad the Scouts still live in the 19th century.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • wow

      So, 'their agenda' is to be treated the same as you. And they should respect your opinion that they should be treated as second class citizens? Should the black community respect the views of white supremacists?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      DJH, Amen!

      August 13, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • KAS

      Agenda? What agenda? You mean like being treated just like everyone else? That if they marry someone, they get the same benefits as everyone else?

      You mean like not being told they can be "cured" of their "disease"?

      I guess you have the same opinion of whites and blacks marrying. That their agenda is so horrible that it must not be allowed.

      It would be nice if you folks could at least come into the 20th century. This constant struggle to drag you up from the depths is getting tiresome.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Not wanting to be discriminated against is very different than pushing an "entire agenda". And all opinions do not have equal merit that should be respected, especially when exclusive in nature.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
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