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. Eagle 76

    BSA leaders, after catching a troop leader raypeing a boy (fondling is raype according to the Department of Justice) call themselves together RATHER than calling the police. Just like church leaders. Just like Penn state leaders.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. coy4one

    "Let those without sin cast the first stone." I guess the Boy Scouts of America can now add "hypocrites" to their motto.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Robert

    This whole thing boils down to a few very simple questions. Does God exist? If so, does he approve or disapprove of gay conduct? If he does approve of it, why did he not design them to continue the species through such conduct? Would he have them focus just on themselves, and not be concerned with survival of the species? These are fundamental questions that each will have to address within themselves.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      "This whole thing" has nothing to do with reproduction of the species or God. It has everything to do with human rights, equality, compassion, freedom of religion, and doing the right thing !

      August 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duane

      Except you nor the Boy Scouts speak on behalf of God....beware false prophets as only he can judge not man.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pollywog

      The decision wasn't made by god (if he exists). It was made by bigoted men. And continuing the species doesn't have anything to do with boy scouts – these are kids that are being taught to be bullies.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • ajbuff

      This whole thing boils down to a few very simple questions: why would anyone want to be in the Boy Scouts in this day and age anyway? With charges of pedophilia and discrimination, it isn't a very attractive organization to belong to? The few Scout troops I have seen out were led by overweight men in ridiculous costumes (outfits?) wearing tons of silly badges and buttons on their clothing. And they were overweight and out of shape. It really looked like a freak show. Perhaps it is time for an updated youth organization that welcomes all, and those that wish to remain with the Boy Scouts can do as they see fit.....

      August 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Trish

      If "god" does approve of it, maybe its "gods" way of protecting the species. Too many humans on this planet will depleat our finite resources. The majority of the population is not gay, so those few who do not reproduce do not depleat the ever expanding human race.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Batton-Powell

      Well, that's a simple one to answer; Nope, no gods or goddesses anywhere, so the rest of your suppositions are meaningless. Of course, the REAL question that has to be asked first is: at what point is it appropriate to deny people dignity and humanity? Apparently, some "christians" like to demonize children; let the Boy Scouts of America wither away, like all the outmoded, religiously-motivated dark-age holdovers that still poison this country.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Just a Normal Person

      Is god a he? Did you lift god's tail to verify that?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • SansLogic

      LOL, first question out of the gate and you're off on the wrong track. There is no God, so the situation does not boil down to your series of sans logic questions. Let's treat each other better here and now, on this planet, instead of hiding behind a religion that pretends to be about love.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      Gay and bi people DO contribute to propagating the species. Not like that should matter, but for accuracy sake, they do. If you are interested in science and not myth, read about kin selection.

      However, your argument is silly. Do you really think anyone who doesn't contribute to the propagation of the species is deviant?

      August 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • jackfrost

      By that logic Robert, anyone who practices abstinence is also not favored by God because we will definitely not continue the species through that practice...

      August 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Laura

    As a private organization, they have the right to make the rules, and, suffer the consequences they may lead to. You don't have to agree with them but no one has the right to take their rights away.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pollywog

      On the other hand, this private group receives lots of money from United Way and other organizations that are sent in by taxpayers who don't necessarily all agreee with this decision. And don't say you can designate your contributions because that's bull. You can designate on paper – and even write it on your check – but I worked for United Way and they still give the money to the boy scouts and ignore the requests.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris Moceri

      You mean taking away their right to take others rights away...right?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • drastic

      Laura – but it is ok for the scouts to take away the rights of others based on their orientation and teach others that is good to hate. Nice

      August 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • SansLogic

      @Laura: yes, they should have the right as a private org to slowly disappear just like religion. These are organizations that profess to be about love, honour, loyalty and all the other motto mumbo jumbo and yet in the end always serve instead to divide, discriminate and denegrate.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Eagle 76

    Every single religious and youth leader who caught a member raypeing a boy and failed to call the police is an accomplice and will be prosecuted.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JayVMN

    I am a male. Wouldn't it be rediculous for me to push trying to be a Girl Scout when I am not a girl. Can't they have their own thing? If there are clubs for gay people do I have to be allowed to join if I am straight? Why? They should be able to have their own club...
    Why don't they form their own GBSA if they so choose and make it an exclusive club. And if they did that, they have the right to not let me or anyone else they don't want in it. And I, as well as no one else should give them crap for it. It's their club...

    August 13, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      JayVMN, I guess you are don't know that the Boy Scouts allow female troop leaders. Kind of makes your whole argument meaningless.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. WOW

    Gay, who cares!! Be as gay as you want to be. Just stop force feeding the pubilc with your demands to be accepted in every facet of our culture. If it was acceptable in our society no one would be having this conversation.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  8. straight shooter

    No one is being discriminated against because gay is a choice. Nobody is born that way. Its not racism, being a bigot or anything else. Its just that people are against other people choices to be gay. keep it in the bedroom and out of the public eye! Good decision by the BSA and I support it.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Flutterby

      You need to do a little research. People ARE born that way. It's not a CHOICE; it is as natural for gay people to feel that way towards the same gender as it is for straight peple to feel that way about the opposite gender.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • ErickMN

      Every reputable medical, psychological and psychiatric organization in the western worlds calls every one of your points DEAD WRONG. Do you make a habit of posting pure garbage online? If so, perhaps you should find another hobby that you're actually good at. How about woodburning or macrame?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jim

    "Myers' figure of 10,000 Eagle Scouts who've sent letters of protest can't be confirmed, but Smith said the actual figure is closer the number reported by the site – 105 as of Friday."

    Eagle Scouts are supposed to be more honest than this. It's probably just as well that he sent his medal back.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • SansLogic

      @Jim: speaking of scouts purporting to hold honesty in the highest regard, BSA spokesman Deron Smith said "a few" badges had been returned. I suppose unlike most folks, for whom a few means 3 or 4 give or take a few, Deron defines a few as hundreds or even thousands? Sounds like at least shading of the truth to me. He'll make a fine politician one day, another career which holds honesty and integrity amongst its loftiest goals... *snicker*

      August 13, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Kenny

    The Boy Scouts is a private organization and as such, they can exclude anyone they so choose. By the same token, no one can be forced to join the Scouts either. As a past Scout I learned what it ment to "respect and defend the rights of all people." I can only hope now that the Boy Scouts of America will learn what they have been teaching for so many years. I also understand and respect the opinion of the Boy Scouts of America. They say the Majority of their people support their decision so that having been said they should forget about what the minority thinks or says and do what they claim is the opinion of their majority.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • JeffofPEoria

      I agree as well. Had they had a majority of their leaders or members question this they would have made a change. I was in the Scouts for a long time and it was a great organization then.

      They will be fine.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Eagle 76

    Bs, Laura. No organization has the right to shelter statutory raypeists from the long arm of the law.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pollywog

      Apparently the catholic church does

      August 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  12. proscout

    WHY do gays want in scouting so badly? What is the reason? Clearly its not becuase they enjoy the program. Plenty of other programs they can join. This is a move by the GAY special interest to make a political statement. When do we draw the line on these special interest groups. Is it when NMBLA wishing to join scouting?

    August 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      Gays are already in Scouts. And why should their desires about scouting be any different than a straight person's?

      August 13, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SeeThruIt2

    The conclusion the BSA came to in ref to openly gay scouts is not about equal rights or not. Their decision was based on protecting the adult volunteers from law suits to see to the continuation of BSA in the future.

    Almost all adults in BSA are parent volunteers. And ANY perceived mistreatment of a scout could cause some parent to file a law suit against some adult volunteer in the troop. Even if a teenage patrol leader pairs some new scout with a gay scout in a two-man tent for an overnight campout. Then the other scouts start their jokes and torment. Then the law suit against the adult volunteers.

    There's no right answer to this potential problem. But, BSA must protect their ability t recruit new adult volunteers.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      SeeThruIt2, by that argument, you shouldn't allow any two kids to be together because someone might be bullied, or some scout my turn out to be bi or gay and not have made a public declaration about it. And given that they allow female scout leaders, it kind of makes your argument about this just being a protection for scout leaders meaningless.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Eagle 76

    What would you think of a man who only wanted to be a Girl Scout Troop leader?
    You are blind if you don't think that many gay men lust for young boys just as many hetero men lust for young girls.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      Another poster who seems to be completely ignorant of the fact that they currently allow FEMALE troop leaders just as the Girl Scouts DO allow MALE leaders.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erica

      Stupid point. Many fathers work with their girl scouts. We have a troop on this Air Force Base, and there is a single father who single-handedly puts many events together for them. If Dads want to help their little girls, I'm all for it.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • McAfee

      There are, in fact, male GS leaders. And there are many straight PEDOPHILE men that "lust" after boys. Get your facts straight, no pun intended.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jim D.

    When are all you people screaming "my rights this and my rights that" going to wake up and realize that Marriage, just like driving, is NOT a RIGHT? It is a privilege and can be taken away or restricted at any time. Thus that is why you need a LICENSE to do either of those activities.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • donna

      If the government is regulating it, which they are, then they cannot discriminate.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • TRH


      If marriage is a priviledge that can be taken away at any time, then how exactly would you feel if a group you identify with were prohibted from being married. What if you have brown hair for instance and some politically powerful group determined that brown haired individuals cannot be married? Or some particular race. Or some particular religious group.

      It's always a priviledge when it's someone ELSE'S rights being taken away. Funny how that works.

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

      Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," – Chief Justice Warren wrtiing for the Court Loving v Virgina. – see now you learned something so today is a good day

      August 13, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
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