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. Keel Hauler

    Isn't it asking a bit much to let lesbians in the Boy Scouts?

    August 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      Are you really asking that question? She was a scout leader. They let women be those, you know. And the BS covered up many pedo incidents...why?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • drastic

      she was a scout leader. There are many women who have done this. Who cares what her orientation is

      August 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      Why? They allow straight women- shouldn't you be more concerned about them than a lesbian?

      August 13, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eagle97

    As a Boy Scout you recite an Oath, which the final line is "To keep my self physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

    The last two words are deliberate in their meaning.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      Just as long as the pedo leader abuse doesn't get in the way, right?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim D.


      August 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • jeff

      "morally straight" That means not to be a bigot toward the minority.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • drastic

      as stated in the article, it also says 'respect and defend the rights of all people' The scouts organization is two faced. Bigotry and discrimination should never be allowed.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cocopuf

      That pretty much says it all. Morally clean and unblemished. There is man's law and there is God's law. Which has precedence?

      August 14, 2012 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. wildone

    It's a private organization that is not supported by taxpayer funds and can exclude anyone they want to. Don't get me wrong. I disagree with their anti-gay policy, but if that's the way they feel, then that's their privilege. I just wouldn't allow my boy to join. Just like membership in certain churches that preach intolerance. If enough parents feel the same way, their membership will suffer until BSA feels the financial pinch of a reduced enrollment.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. drastic

    for goodness sake, when are we as a nation, people, specie going to quit worrying and discriminating against people with a different orientation. It simply does not matter. For those religious types who say it is against whoever they believe in, well that being created all of us. We are all humans and all deserve to be treated the same way regardless of who we want to have in a relationship. I salute those eagle scouts who are standing up and saying this stupid and demeaning to discriminate against people with different beliefs. We all need to grow as a specie and learn to give our hates and bigotry before we go over the cliff permanently.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eagle88

      Absolutely. We all deserve to be treated the same. Held to the same standard and accountable for our actions. Seems this is the definition of a Just God. Speed Limits are set at 55mph. We are all held accountable to 55mph whether our predisposed tendancies are to go slow, or go fast. We are expected by our creator to control ourselves, act by faith, keep his commandments and return home. A violation of his commandments incurs the penalties of a JUST God. Adhearance to His commandments incurs all the blessings he has promised His faithful children.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Drastic, for goodness sake, when are we going to let people stand up for what they believe in. If you have a set of beliefs and then someone tries to force you to change them and then cry foul when you don' is that at all fair and just? I find that to be stupid, discriminatory and demeaning to judge people on their beliefs. I think too many of you liberal types define "bigotry" as "someone who does not agree with me". I also find that people who accuse others of being bigots are usually hypocritical bigots themselves but are just too ignorant to understand that.

      August 15, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Bill

    A private organization has a RIGHT to publish and live by the rules they have determined are in the best interest of their organization and those wishing to belong to said organization. I'm sorry, but The Boy Scouts of America is a private oraganization and if they say no gays then that is a rule you agree to live by if you want to be part of the organziation. Becoming an Eagle Scout is a very difficult level to achieve, you should be very proud of yourself and I admire your taking the stand you've taken in support of gays and lesbians. Too bad it isn't your call, the decision BELONGS to the Boy Scouts. You should resign from the Boy Scouts if you feel that strongly. I drifted away from the Scouts for reasons other than the gay issue.. You must remember, they are a PRIVATE ORGANIZATION and it is their rules and they have made their decision, Even though I drifted from the organization I still appreciate what they taught me. I wish these Scouts luck in the future, but don't think for a minute that your not being an Eagle Scout or an Explorer will change the Boy Scouts. But I, as a Gay American Man salute The Boy Scouts of America for their stance, but more importantly their RIGHT to take and keep that stance!

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

      Yes, the Boy Scouts can create any kind of policies they want. Just as people are permitted to publicly express their opinions about those policies.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  6. rick C.

    ...the ban violates rules outlined in the Scouting Handbook, which he said calls on Scouts to "respect and defend the rights of all people."

    The ultimate in hypocrisy, they break their own rules.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      That's going to have to be changed. But them, most hypocrites do live by some sort of book.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • GatorALLin

      ...great argument... I had not seen this point made before, but expected to see it... thanks for posting this

      August 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Web Jock

      Well put! Most of today's bigotry usually does involve hypocrisy in one form or another.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jsctaller

    because we know that priests like to touch little boys. and the church does nothing about it.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • dav

      athiest like to attackn little children becoause they believe they are just small animals

      August 13, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TOM

    B C N U!!!

    ..."to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and MORALLY STRAIGHT"! You took an OATH! Live up to it or GET OUT!!

    Another EAGLE Scout!!

    August 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • GatorALLin

      .... I guess this brings up a good question about what the definition of Morally straight is.... (maybe they should have just kept the word "morally" out so it says it is for straight men only, ha!). So is it morally straight for gay people to love same gender? Who gets to say what the definition is for all people? I guess any club can set up their rules, yeah no one likes to get bullied into changing their rules. Even bullies don't like to be bullied. In one of my first Boy Scout meetings I remember being told that the best way to think of the scout oath and law and motto was to think of the golden rule and treat others as you would like to be treated. I thought it odd at the time as I went to sunday school and we were taught that was I supposed to think this was a religious group?. Our meeting room was part of a small church that let us use their building so there was always a religious undertone to things...but not pushed obnoxiously. Anyhow... when I go back and read the detailed writings of Baden Powell on friendship and his comments not to be a "snob" to those in a class below you (then Baden Powell was known for saying his best friend's wife was below his social status), there are lots of contradictions. What if Baden Powell himself turns out to be anything but straight... how ironic to this debate is that truth... Here we have people just trying to be seen as equals....I guess I don't think their way of thinking is contagious to me or my beliefs. I guess if you don't understand people are born that way or not, then I could see the fear side of this debate. Yes, I am for American freedom, even or better said especially for the Boy Scouts of America. All clubs should get to chose what they want to do.... but really a club is nothing more than the group they serve.... and all organizations like a living breathing organism should learn to change/adapt to survive ... have to wonder if the rules written so long ago are worth an upgrade to be all that Boy Scouts was truly meant to be. I can see where letting the Gay thing in is a distraction like it is said could be for the military etc... Maybe that old/broken way of thinking is actually proven wrong there already?.... I think we are smart enough to deal with each situation as it comes up and in a way that is best for everyone. Its 2012....maybe a time to upgrade some older thinking...and still not lose our traditions and values. (Eagle from FL and Camp Counselor for years at Camp Shands in FL)

      August 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Midest Mom

    Wait a minute Ted, Gay is not the same thing as "pedophiles". EVERYONE objects to pedophiles in any church and/or society but there is no relation to what went on in the Catholic Church and a gay parent wanting to participate in their son's Boy Scout activities. How in the world did you even make that connection? One is not at all related to the other.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Badz


      August 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      I'm sure that not all gays are pedophiles, but they are all involved in seriour perversion.

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

    I was a scout and now a boy scout parent volunteer...I support BSA's stand against gays and lesbians...Its against christian faith and generally good morals...
    Regarding the Eagle Scouts whom persumably renounced their acheivement...they must have never been truely believers of the Scout law and practices anyways...Their renouncing their rank will have little effect on this organization...

    August 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • coolhead

      If BSA was a christain organization I would say you have a point, but they are not.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Eagle 76

    Eagle Scout's who resigned after openly gay troop leaders caught molesting boys were allowed to stay on as troop leaders did so without blowing a trumpet in front of them.
    Obe gay troop leader from Orange County CA was caught 3 times and then moved to Canada where he continued to raype just boys. He now sits in a Canadian prison.
    BSA shelters boy raypists just like churches do.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sue

    Come on, you can't find a ga(y)er organization than the Boy Scouts. Matching short/shirt combo with a fancy scarf? What a shame that this organization would discriminate. My troop leader was married with kids and booted out for being a bit handsy with the younguns.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  13. solex

    One day we will understand that morality and s3xual orientation are mutually exclusive. On that same note, why is it we automatically assume that anyone who professes to be religous is automatically thought to be a moral person?

    Judge people by their actions and nothing else.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Michael

    When I was a scout I was bullied by another scout... He thought I was a sissy. Maybe a different Scout leader (Gay or Gay accepting) would have protected me.

    Kindness and Compassion are not laws to be legislated but agreements made by people to create a better world.

    I don't want BSA to be forced to Kind and Compassionate- I just want clarification on the Boy Scout oath " A Scout is Kind (sometimes), helpful (depends), friendly (occasionally), reverent (to a christian god), thrifty (no iPhone?)....

    August 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. proscout

    at what point do we draw the line. will it be when NMBLA members want to be in scouts too? Gays should drop this, private organization have the right to BAN whomever they feel they need to...Why do GAYs want in scouting SO BAD? That is the real question. I am an Eagle Scout and I support BSA stance on this. My son is in scouts now and I know of incidents where kids were of the cases was by a dad who came out after he was caught molesting kids..

    August 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      Gay people have nothing to do with pedophilia. The vast majority of pedophiles are straight men, so you should be concerned about them using your logic.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
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