Eagle Scouts Renounce Achievement in Protest

Eagle Scouts Renounce Achievement in Protest August 16, 2012

After the Boy Scouts of America reconfirmed their policy of not allowing gays or non-believers to participate, a group of more than a hundred men who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout have renounced their medals and their achievement to protest that decision.

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…

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…

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…

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.”

Give those men a merit badge for commitment to equality.

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  • Chuck

    If the scouts want to continue their discriminatory practices, they should at least be honest and rename themselves the Boy Scouts of Christianity.

  • Back in the unreconstructed pre-politically-correct days of my youth (I’m 65) the jokes we teenagers told included whole categories about the sexual preferences of scoutmasters (and priests, come to think of it).

    Reprehensible humour to my adult mind, but it does give rise to the impression that these laddies doth protest too much, methinks.

  • “Boy Scouts of Christianity” is a brave attempt, but many “Christians” do not consider Mormons Christians, and Mormon churches sponsor the majority (literally, not figuratively) of Boy Scout troops. And the Boy Scouts were founded by a gay man, Lord Baden Powell, not that it should matter.

  • dingojack

    “IF you can keep your head when all about you

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;

    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

    If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

    If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;

    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

    And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breathe a word about your loss;

    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,

    And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

    Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

    if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

    If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

    And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!”

    IF. Rudyard Kipling


  • dickspringer

    I have an older Eagle badge than most others here; I received it in 1943. It is time for me to add mine to the collection of returned medals. The BSA is an increasingly sickening organization.

  • dickspringer

    P.S. As an atheist I would now be excluded from the BSA anyway.

  • I notice that the BSA’s ban on gay scouts or scoutmasters doesn’t seem to have prevented them from having a sex-abuse scandal of their own. Funny how the gay-bashers always try to equate homosexuality with pedophilia, but it almost always turns out that the worst instances of child-sex-abuse arise in the LEAST gay-friendly organizations.

  • Michael Heath

    ivarhusa asserts:

    . . . the Boy Scouts were founded by a gay man, Lord Baden Powell, not that it should matter.

    Cite requested which provides convincing evidence. I note convincing because I’m aware there’s been speculation he was gay, with countering arguments he wasn’t; where I’m not privy to evidence that proves it; which is how you frame your assertion.

  • Doug Little

    Funny how the gay-bashers always try to equate homosexuality with pedophilia

    Yeah, there was a guy over on Mano’s blog that was doing just that and then swearing that he wasn’t doing it and then doing it again all in the space of a couple of sentences Link

  • slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #8

    Lord Baden-Powell was married and had three children, which would seem to indicate that, at worst, he was bisexual. Interestingly enough, his wife was one of the founders of the Girl Scouts (known in Great Britain as the Girl Guides).


  • janiceintoronto


    “Re Michael Heath @ #8

    Lord Baden-Powell was married and had three children, which would seem to indicate that, at worst, he was bisexual.”

    Exactly what do you mean by ‘at worst’?

  • Erp


    Strictly speaking Baden-Powell set up the Girl Guides after girls started showing up at Scouting events and insisting they were scouts too. He initially put his sister, Agnes, in charge (he wasn’t married yet) and then she was pushed out and his wife put in charge later. In the US the Girl Scouts were founded by Juliette Gordon Low a close friend of Baden-Powell, and reverted to ‘Scouts’ much to the dismay of the US Boy Scouts.

  • Michael Heath

    slc1 writes:

    Lord Baden-Powell was married and had three children, which would seem to indicate that, at worst, he was bisexual.

    Uh, no. Even today there are homosexuals who are not bi but also married with children. So my original request stands.

    Let’s hope your ‘worst’ quips is a gaffe you regret.

  • As we are without Baden-Powell’s own words directly stating his sexual orientation, I’d suggest that we can never be certain about the matter. I will say, however, that I think his sexuality was something that troubled him to a certain extent.

  • Scott F

    A large percentage of Scouts are from the LDS (Mormon) church. My understanding is that every LDS school-aged boy is required to be a Scout, and every parent of said boy is required to take turns as a Scout leader, whether they want to or not. (Which tends to lead to some very unhappy Scouts, as well as rather unhappy and uncommonly poor Scout “leaders”.) Scout summer camps even have special LDS weeks, where the scouts don’t have to show up until Monday, after the Sabbath. So, politically and financially, there is no way that the BSA as an organization can not be “anti-gay”. They would lose a large part of their funding and support.

    But outside the LDS troops, it’s quite a different story. On a local level, there’s a defacto “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Locally, it just isn’t an issue.

    Same with religion. Officially, BSA requires belief in a religion, any religion. But locally, no one cares. No one asks what church you belong to, or if you attend. You don’t want to work on the Religion merit badge? No problem. At camps, prayers and religious services are offered, but no one is required to attend. And since BSA is officially neutral about which religion the boy chooses, their services tend to be quite non-denominational. In fact, with their strong affinity for Native American cultures, BSA services can often be quite non-Christian in nature.

    So, while I’m no fan of the “official” BSA policy, Scouts and Scout leaders as individuals are typically far more tolerant than Scouting as an institution. In fact, because they teach tolerance and respect in all other facets of life, I find they tend to be more tolerant than the local society as a whole. (Though this could just be my local experience. I’m sure there are regional differences.)

    From this I conclude that there is hope for the institution.

  • Scott F

    In fact, the BSA is only one of 150+ World Scouting organizations, many of which don’t have any problem with gay scouts. In fact, the BSA is one of the few scouting organizations that is not co-ed. Except for the money and influence of the LDS church in Scouting, I can’t imagine that the BSA would have any problems with more liberal policies.

    Of course, that LDS component is still a real anchor. It would be interesting to see if the BSA organization could be persuaded to abandon the LDS troops.

    My point is, I believe that the potential of the organization is such that it is better to try to change it, rather beat it to death.

  • “Boy Scouts of Christianity”

    Isn’t that some sort of RCC organization? I mean, they gotta check out the herd afore they cut out the prime stock,right? Amiright?

  • Someone needs to start a “rainbow scouts” organization that is gender-neutral, sexuality-neutral, religion-neutral, and does cooler stuff than the boy scouts. Like social activism.

    Who the fuck cares about a business that’s decided to not offer what their customers want?

  • davroslives

    @Marcus, they already have that, called Venture Scouts, which my sister did because her Girl Scout troop never did anything interesting. They do high-adventure stuff, mostly, kayaking, white water rafting, rappelling, etc. Of course, they’re also still affiliated with BSA, but they’re coed.

    This particular issue is one I’ve grappled with. I’m an Eagle Scout, and I have nothing but positive things to say about my experience. I went all the way from Tiger Cub in kindergarten to Eagle Scout in high school, and I consider it to be an important formative experience in my life. Our troop never, ever had problems with this stuff. There was religion associated, in that we were sponsored by a Methodist Church, but other than that, nothing really. My mother was the scoutmaster, and religion and politics just never came up. Partly because of her, partly because while our area in Ohio is religious, it tends to be low-key religious.

    As it has been said previously, local scout troops are generally pretty ok places, with don’t-ask-don’t-tell kinds of policies (though that is hardly ideal, of course). But then you have the LDS-run administration at the top, and their obsession with anti-gay and anti-atheist activities. I still don’t know what I’ll decide. Do I send back my Eagle because of the reprehensible activities by the leadership of BSA? Or do I retain something I have a great deal of pride in accomplishing?

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