Eagle Scouts stand up to the Boy Scouts of America: *UPDATED*

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276 Responses to “Eagle Scouts stand up to the Boy Scouts of America: *UPDATED*”

  1. awjt says:

    Extremely powerful.  It must hurt very badly to send that medal back that took so many years to earn.  But it hurts more to be associated with a bigoted organization, and had to be done.  I hope more Eagle Scouts see what their parent organization is doing and respond like Christopher Baker did.

    edit: I’m reading the follow up letters, and tears are welling up… these things need their own website and a donate button to give money to legally CHALLENGE THE BSA in court, to get their stupid, homophobic, evil decision overturned. I’d donate to that legal fund in a heartbeat.

    • Christopher says:

      I did it several years ago. In a way I wish I’d waited so that mine could be part of the group that’s now being sent, but I’m still glad to have done it.

      And, yes, it did hurt. The medal itself isn’t such a big deal. I had to dig through several boxes in the attic to find it. It’s what it meant that hurt. I was proud of myself for becoming an Eagle Scout. I had a great time as a Boy Scout. I’d been to several Eagle award presentations by the time I got mine, and everyone before me thanked their parents, the Scout masters, and other adult leaders. Most of my speech was thanking my fellow Scouts–not just the guys who’d helped me with my community service project, but all my fellow Scouts who helped make being a Scout so much fun and who gave me so many great memories. It was because of them that I stayed around and became an assistant Scoutmaster, and helped younger Scouts achieve their Eagle awards as well.

      And looking back it hurts me that I wasn’t more aware sooner, that I didn’t realize how hurtful some of the BSA’s policies are. It hurts me that I didn’t think to refuse that Eagle award when it was presented to me.

      And it hurts me now to think that, even though I’m basically the same person I was then, my views have changed and I know myself better than I did then, and if I had known then what I do now I couldn’t have been a Boy Scout. But nothing hurts more than knowing that there are boys who are smarter and more self-aware than I was at their age who are excluded from being Boy Scouts solely because of who they are and what they believe. And it hurts to think they won’t have the opportunities I had.

    • Just_Ok says:

      Eagle Scouts band together to save the BSA from itself.

    • Kent Han says:

      While the BSA’s discriminatory policy is abhorrent, it is, unfortunately, legal. There have been lawsuits in the past, including one or two that have reached the US Supreme Court, that have all fallen flat.
      I believe that this practice, by Eagle Scouts, of renouncing their hard-earned and previously-proud achievement, along with a national boycott of the Scouts is probably the most effective thing people can do to get the point across.

      • awjt says:

        That may be so, but I’d contribute a hefty sum to keep upsetting their apple cart.

      • Kimmo says:

        Eagle Scouts who enlist in the military after high school can start off with a higher rank than their peers.

        Eh? Seems to me, they’ve become something of a de facto pillar of America’s civic infrastructure, so why the hell shouldn’t they be nationalised?

        Isn’t it more than a bit crook that doing well in this private organisation that can exclude whoever they like is worth such a leg-up in society, and it’s endorsed and legitimised to the point it puts you higher up the food chain on the public payroll? From where you can order the odd queer who’d never make it into the scouts to fight and die as a bonus, I suppose.

        I guess nationalising the BSA in order to hand it over to the actual Scouts themselves would be unthinkable, though… this is America – land of the free, home of the brave, intellectual prison of plebs brainwashed by the elite.

        Which kinda segues nicely to the MPAA, doesn’t it… the US is infested with private bodies doing jobs that belong to the government.

        Americans just don’t get it; potentially at least, the government is part of your system – it’s not a foreign body like a private entity is always going to be. To put it another way, there’s far greater scope for aligning the interests of the providers of a service with those of the folks using the service, when they’re at least ostensibly on the same fucking side.

  2. mobobo says:

    “Homosexuality is not a moral deviance, bigotry is.”
    What a shame to be put in a position of sacrificing such a well earned award, and ruddy well done to your husband and others who choose to vocalize their disappointment.

  3. CSBD says:

    Good for him.
    I wish I had had such a good excuse for quitting the Scouts.

    I also wish there was another scouting organization free from religious influences.  I especially hate that the Mormans have been poking their fingers into every scout orifice (metaphorically speaking) for 2o years now and have only stopped short of creating a Joseph Smith Merit Badge. 

    • billstreeter says:

      There is an alternative, The Baden-Powell Service Association is inclusive and doesn’t discriminate because of religion or sexual orientation. It’s a much bigger organization in the UK but there is an American association: http://bpsa-us.org/ it's worth checking out and perhaps some of the former Eagle Scouts can help raise the profile of this alternative org.

      • Robin Craig says:

        There is also Campfire.  http://campfireusa.com/   A good scouting organization that is truely tolerant – all races and religions and sexual orientation,  including being co-ed,  and has an emphasis on community service and has been in the shadow of Boy Scouts for decades.  They recently celebrated 100 years of scouting. 

    • Adri says:

      There is. It’s called the Girl Scouts.

      • Martijn says:

        As I understand, the Girl Scouts are actually very inclusive. Wouldn’t it be great if they became so inclusive to also accept boys, so everybody can just ignore the Boy Scouts and let them wither away?

    • Nylund says:

      I too am a bit unnerved by how the scouts seems to becoming more and more a Mormon youth group.  That’s definitely not going to help get the BSA on the right side of gay rights.

  4. Liz Stevenson says:

    Bravo for him, and also, my condolences. That must have been a very hard thing for him to do.

  5. I may have to join the movement as well.

  6. franko says:

    thank you.

  7. I think also worth pointing out that openly gay men and boys are currently not excluded from the organisation that inspired the Boy Scouts of America, the original Scout Association in the UK. 

  8. Jason Baker says:

    As a (mostly) straight male who didn’t make it NEARLY so far into his boy scouting career, I just wanted to say: tell your husband thank you. From me and my (former girl scout) wife.

  9. bobchadwick says:

    If I could find my Tenderfoot award, I’d send it in.

  10. Bruce Heerssen says:

    Kudos to Chris. Good for him. I’d like to also add that the BSA discriminates against atheists, too. From the application form:

    Excerpt from the Declaration of Religious Principle
    The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God and, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its  attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life. Only persons willing to subscribe to these precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle and to the Bylaws of the Boy Scouts of America shall be entitled to certificates of membership.

    I’m glad to see Eagle Scouts standing up for the rights of LGBT scouts. I encourage them to also stand up for the rights of non-believers and members of religions that do not recognize a monotheistic god. (eg: hindus)

    • Walter Reade says:

      “I’m glad to see Eagle Scouts standing up for the rights of LGBT scouts.”

      Do you not believe in or support the right of Freedom of Association?

      • The BSA certainly has the freedom to decide who it wants in its organization. That doesn’t make it right. And members of that organization also have the right to tell the BSA that they think this policy is morally vile and that they won’t be a part of the club as long as it practices discrimination. 

        Nobody is assaulting freedoms here. Move along. 

        • Walter Reade says:

          Maggie – I agree with your statements. (Except for the somewhat condescending “move along”.)

          My comment was specifically to the statement I quoted. Many feel that, that the BSA, in practicing its right to freedom of association, is limiting the rights of LGBT. This is not the case. That was my  point. No more. No less.

          • ZikZak says:

            Rights are a social construct.  That is: society constructs them.  That is: we collectively decide what are and aren’t rights based on what we do and don’t tolerate in our society.

            I won’t tolerate the bigotry displayed by Boy Scouts of America.

          • Walter Reade says:

            And just to let people know where I stand – I am not a fan of the BSA, for multiple reasons.

          • Apologies for the rudeness, Walter. I’m a little tired of and frustrated by “they have the right to choose who is in their private organization” being used as a synonym for “and nobody should ever criticize them or that is oppression”. 

            If that’s not what you meant, great. 

            While I don’t think the BSA is directly infringing the rights of gay scouts, I do think they are hugely contributing to oppression of gay scouts. When a major organization—something that is a big part of lots of kids’ childhoods—tells those children that certain people are bad and don’t deserve to be a part of the club, it’s sanctioning bigotry and teaching bigotry to children who will help decide what rights the oppressed legally are given access to. That matters. And it’s not at all equivalent to telling the BSA that they’re being morally repugnant. 

          • EH says:

            Does it help to restate that as the BSA’s practice of non-association setting a bad example for Scouts, if not limiting their freedom of association?

          • RedShirt77 says:

            Its true that not all discrimination is a violation of a right of those discriminated against.  Its just immoral when its done  based on who people are rather than their interest. 

            But I Think your comment misses the point that Bruce was making about needing to look at a number of groups that are being discriminated against because of how religion is integrated into everything, including an organization focused on teaching good citizenship through enjoying the outdoors.

      • nixiebunny says:

        Telling an organization that you disagree with its policies is not dissing freedom of association… it’s just letting them know that you disagree with their policies.

        As the acceptance of homosexuality is spreading, the BSA will become a smaller organization due to its stance.

      • bostonareapete says:

         Most of the postings I see here criticizing the BSA are from people who are (or were) part of scouting. Yes, it’s a private organization, and if you’re not part of it, then maybe it’s none of your business. But I’ve got a Life Scout award at home somewhere, and a current BSA ID card in my wallet, that prove that it damn well *is* my business, and I’m pissed that an organization I belong to, that represents a lot of fine ideals, has been hijacked by a bunch of rednecks.

      • Bruce Heerssen says:

        Of course I do, Walter. Maggie has a great response to this, so I’ll let her speak for me.

        • Walter Reade says:

          I appreciate the productive dialogue. 

          From what I understand from the responses, the issue isn’t “the right for LGBT to join BSA” but rather the concern of BSAs policy impact on the larger issue of LGBT rights. (Did I get it this time?)

          Sorry I missed the point originally.

      • Marc Mielke says:

        The right of Freedom of Association doesn’t cover being shunned because you don’t want to hang out with blacks, or Jews, or homosexuals. You bigot. 

    • My husband had a brief stint as a scout leader for my son’s troop last year.  He himself was a step away from an eagle scout when he was younger.  After much debating as to whether we should just not mention we were atheists, we decided we felt dishonest in continuing our affiliation with our local scouting troop.  I am proud of my husband for setting a good example for our son, but can’t help feeling a little angry and bitter about the whole ordeal as there has been a small amount of my son being ostracized by a couple of peers for the decision.

    • AviSolomon says:

      Luckily, as a former scout from India, I’m absolved of this moral dilemma! We had boys from all allegiances in our troop and religion was never an issue in our scouting comradery:
      http://www.bsgindia.org/

      • Ronald Pottol says:

        In the BSA, you have to believe in something, as I understand it, atheism is not an option.

        • AviSolomon says:

          Technically, the Bharat Scouts and Guides have the same BSA-ish requirement:
          “DUTY TO GOD:  Adherence to spiritual principle, loyalty to the religion that expresses the acceptance of the duties resulting there from.”
          But try enforcing this on a bunch of teenage Hindus, Christians, Jains, Zoarastrians, Muslims and Jews (me)!

          • Ronald Pottol says:

            Same thing when I was in, back in the 1970s, we had some atheists claim to be Buddhists so they could get out of the church services. 

        • Roy Walter says:

          We never had anything religious in our scouting experience (1970s NYC suburb). 

          As for your “you have to believe in something” line…does that imply atheists don’t? Because that’s pretty ridiculous.

    • relawson says:

      I took my son to sign up for scouts. 

      I read that part, picked up our stuff, handed the form back to the organizer. When asked if there was something wrong, I said something like “I’m not signing my son up for a program that thinks a person needs a God to be the best kind of citizen.”

      • Kelly Mosier says:

        There are other organizations.  I suggest you look into a relatively new organization, at least in the US, Baden-Powell Service Assocation (bpsa-us.org).  They are a traditional scouting group that is fully inclusive, and while they’re pretty new they are looking for people who might be interested in signing up and get their own groups started.

        • relawson says:

          Yeah, I checked them out from the mentions in this thread but none are in my area. :(

          I wish I had time to start something!  

      • punkrockbeth says:

         This was the reason I ended up leaving the GSA. . .

    • Patricia Gardner says:

      Bruce, this is why I limited my daughter’s participation in the girl scouts. As an ex-Catholic, I just couldn’t get past the pledge to God, which was being interpreted in her troop as Jesus-based dialogue. Ultimately, I withdrew her because of the troup leader’s stump-dumb beliefs. She also encouraged mild bullying among the girls (usually instigated by her daughter) and is probably a creationist by now. ;) 

      • Wowbagger_Infinitley_Prolonged says:

        I hope you look for another troop because that leader isn’t following Girl Scout policy.  Scouts do not have to pledge to God (they may omit that section of the pledge or substitute what feels right to them). 

        The Girl Scouts is miles ahead of the Boy Scouts in terms of inclusion and non-discrimination.

      • wildefae says:

         Yeah, the Girl Scouts don’t have to pledge to God, as far as I know. At least, our Brownie troop (and the related older girl scouts in our area) didn’t. The Girl Scouts are incredibly progressive when you compare them to the Boy Scouts.

        • punkrockbeth says:

           When I was an adult Girl Scout a decade ago, I had it explained to me thusly “We are a faith based organization. We won’t tell you what faith to pick, but you’ve got to pick one.”  Perhaps that is just the interpretation in the Cumberland Valley GSA circles, but I know it is what finally caused me to pack my things and leave camp.

    •  Yep……and that is the second reason that I have not allowed my two boys to join scouts. I have friends with girls in Girl Scouts and I have sometimes wished that I had an option more like that for my boys…..

  11. Jack Amick says:

    I really hope they listen. I’m an Eagle Scout too, and it would be hard to send my medal back. Scouting and dying, and the BSA board is only just helping this happen.

    • Artor says:

      Please do it. A badge is just a badge. You did the work & learned the lessons; that’s what’s important. Apparently, the larger organization still has a big lesson to learn, and returning your Eagle badge might help them to understand how to be responsible citizens.

      • Kyle says:

         AS a former scout, and an LGBT person, I think you comment that “a badge is just a badge”  shows how little you understand what these scouts are doing…there are not simply sending a material thing back to BSA, they are saying, ” I am no longer an Eagle Scout” and since the first principle of the Scout Law is trustworthiness, I honestly have to believe that from this day forward, none of these men will refer to themselves as an Eagle Scout.  In essence they are saying “The scouting principles I was taught are no longer held in esteem by the BSA, and therefore I can no longer consider myself to be associated with such an organization”.  So i truly understand what it means, even thought I never achived that rank, to renounce your status an an Eagle Scout in the BSA.

        • townandgownie says:

           Sorry but you should drop in to Reddit r/Atheism sometime and read the hundreds of comments from current Eagle Scouts trying to contort themselves into some legitimate position. The gist of most is that – what’s it matter if I hide my Atheism since being an Eagle Scout is so beneficial.

          I try to point out the hypocrisy but it falls on deaf ears. These are the kind of people that have no problem lying their way through life. I assume most are headed for political careers.

          • cfuse says:

            Others choosing to act without principles doesn’t negate the acts of these people in renouncing their Eagle Scout badge. If anything, it elevates it.

            They are making a personal sacrifice, at significant cost to themselves, to stand with those that are oppressed. That is laudable regardless of what anyone else does.

    • dbergen says:

      I really think it has more impact if you send it back now. If you wait and see it tells them nothing. Add your voice to the chorus. You can always get it back if the BSA smartens up.

    • Andrew Singleton says:

      It’s just a lump of metal and a bit of ribbon worth a couple bucks.

      The memories and experiences you went through to get it though. Those are priceless. You’d be doing the right thing by joining in.

      • bardfinn says:

        It’s not just metal and ribbon. It’s an award. The award meant something. Now people are beginning to realize it means more than they previously thought.

  12. MaximumOvertroll says:

    I was a scout that never made Eagle but I have known many Eagle Scouts and admire anyone who has achived that rank. I know what it takes to get it and I know it would be hard for an adult to accomplish let alone a teen. It takes skill, intelligence and dedication. Anyone who would willingly resign the rank in protest of this bigotry is a true Eagle and represents everything the Eagle Scouts are supposed to stand for.

  13. CaptainPedge says:

    Good for Chris, bravo and all that, but I just don’t think the BSA are going to care. Once you ‘graduate’, for want of a better word, they only care about you for your money.

    • Artor says:

      Yes, but if their reputation starts to tank, as it rightly should, then it’s going to start showing up in their balance sheets. If they can’t be relied upon to do what’s obviously right, then maybe they can at least do what’s ultimately more profitable.

    • dragonfrog says:

      Every organization has to make the assumption that for every person who writes them in protest, there are some number (10, 20, 100, whatever), who silently stop donating, and the organization will never know why.

      So, sure, sending in a badge is, in itself, a symbolic action.  But, it also almost certainly means an end to financial support from that person, and whatever group of silent contributors they statistically represent.

  14. Navin_Johnson says:

    Bravo.

  15. ieatlegos says:

    I completed all of my Eagle requirements (including my community project,) except one; there is a requirement to get a medal called “God and Country,” and while there is a version for every religion, including Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, even some comparatively small religions, such as Jainism, there is no alternative for atheism.  Though I was Catholic at the time, I didn’t feel it was right, and wrote a letter to the president of the Boy Scouts asking him why.  
    The circumstances were special at the time, because my abusive and controlling former stepfather worked for the primary energy company in Missouri, which was owned by the corporation where the president of the Boy Scouts was CEO.   He had to review all my letters before I sent them off, and honestly, edited out a lot of my complaints, including one about how my troop had to absorb the remainder of a troop from a neighboring town that had disbanded because two boys were caught involved in sexual acts with each other on a campout.  
    I thought the whole thing was ridiculous, especially because a boy from my troop and his girlfriend got caught having sex on visitor’s day that same year, with no repercussions for him (in regards to the Boy Scouts, anyway.)  
    I should also note the troop leader from this town was a highly closeted gay, a very proactive member of the small town society, and the only reason I knew was because he and my friend’s uncle had been in a secret relationship for years.  The whole thing was a sad mess, and hearing all the homophobic comments from my troop and the troop we absorbed after the ordeal in front of my closeted scoutmaster was one my life’s great heartbreaks.  
    I wish I had an Eagle medal to send back, but I’m glad I don’t because I learned how convoluted and hateful the system was at a young age.  

    • bostonareapete says:

       I almost had a heart attack when I saw that – my son is 17 and working on Eagle, and we’re Unitarian Universalists – the only group I know of to have the BSA rescind their religious award. (because of their opposition to the BSA’s anti-gay policies) Luckily it looks like the Eagle requirements have changed and it’s no longer required.

    • John Heaton says:

      Bad news: someone was lying to you. A religious emblem is not and never has been a requirement for earning the Eagle. http://www.troop97.net/bsaeagle.htm

      • townandgownie says:

         But affirming a belief in god is. Same thing.

        • John Heaton says:

          I don’t think they’re the same thing at all. True, reverence is part of the Scout Law, just like trustworthiness, loyalty, helpfulness, friendliness, courtesy, kindness, obedience, good cheer, thrift, bravery, and cleanliness, but the only one of those an Eagle needs to proactively demonstrate to earn the rank is the third one, in the form of the service project. Requiring a Scout to earn a religious emblem would be akin to requiring him to earn one of those medals of merit they wrote about in the “True Stories of Scouts in Action” section of Boys’ Life to demonstrate how brave you are.

  16. Hal says:

    Scouting in Ireland is coed and inclusive. I was really disappointed not to find something similar for my kids in Chicago… If anyone knows of a coed US scouting organization I would be interested.

    • I’ve heard good things about the Campfire Kids. 

    • There is a skeptical scouting group called Camp Quest, and if you are raising kids that are non-religious, they do a lot of cool critical thinking stuff. http://www.campquest.org/’

    • bostonareapete says:

      If the local BSA council is supportive, you can have a combined Boy Scout (boys, 11-18) and Venturing (co-ed, 14-21) troop, although to make it work you have to enroll younger girls in an obscure BSA program called Learning For Life.

      Or you can just run a Venturing troop for older youth. It’s more outdoor-oriented than Boy Scouts, and currently there are more girls in that age range enrolled in Venturing than Girl Scouts.

      Of course, starting a troop (or changing an existing one) is a hell of a lot of work.

      • Kathy says:

        Where are you getting the stat that more girls are entering Venturing than Girl Scouts? Is that just in your area or have you actually seen numbers from the GSUSA and BSA to back this up?
        I know of many more girls leaving Venture Scouts because they have issues with their policies than girls joining up.

    • Kelly Mosier says:

      I hope you get this even though I found this thread pretty late.  Campfire Kids is on option, there’s also another group, Baden-Powell Service Association that is an all inclusive traditional scouting organization.  They have no ties with the BSA, and while relatively new they’re looking for interested people.  I’d check them out if you can.

      bpsa-us.org

  17. jandrese says:

    I really hope this makes a difference.  I was an active Boy Scout/Venture Scout (Canadian version of Boy Scouts), and probably would have made Eagle had my Family not been relocated to Canada for a couple of years when I was 14.

    I have a two year old Son now and I want him to become a Scout as well, but the religious capture of the organization at the top worries me.  Scouting teaches a lot of valuable life skills (it is where I learned how to tie knots, handle a knife safely, and swear) and provides a lot of social interaction with kids outside of your normal circle of friends.  Scouts also offers one of the few opportunities for kids to really demonstrate leadership and teamwork. 

    It was becoming evident even back in 1995 when I aged out, and has apparently been getting worse ever since.  I remember one of the last Jamborees (there were 3 or 4 per year held by the local council) I went to had a new feature: a mandatory “nondenominational” Sunday Service, held by the new regional guy that was just a Christian church service. 

    The good news is that at the troop level, at least when I was a scout, everybody just kind of did their own thing anyway and didn’t pay much attention to a lot of the declarations that filtered down from the top.  However, this means that your local troop can be anywhere on the map depending on who the scoutmaster is.  Some troops are led by pastors and are basically another day of church each week for the boys.  Others (like the one I was in) were led by outdoorsmen and are much more focused on outdoor activities (hiking, climbing, cave exploring, camping, etc…) and never really talk about religion.

    • Greg Miller says:

       Heh, our troop, although we met in the basement of a methodist church, only  briefly touched on religion. Heck, we even had a wiccan make Eagle – he took some liberties re-writing the eagle scout ceremony that ruffled some feathers, but he still got it.

      I’d personally like to see them replace any religious requirements with a spiritualism/philosophy requirement – make the boys (and hopefully girls, once they get their heads out of the sand on that one) THINK about what they believe in, and why they believe it. At least make them understand that religion and philosophy can be peacefully debated, and that there can be disagreement without animosity.

    • Paul Parsons says:

      For the record, Scouts Canada is openly accepting of LGBT scouts. In fact, it’s officially recognized in their charter: “Scouts Canada is committed to social justice including the promotion of gender and member diversity at all levels of the organization, both in its structures and programs and to the elimination of discrimination on the groups of race, gender, ethnicity, financial ability, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, religion, disability or age.”

      That’s why I’m happy I was a Canadian Scout.

  18. colinadams says:

    I am an Eagle Scout too.  To help you realize how rare this is, only 2% of Boy Scouts ever attain this rank.  It is a huge time commitment, and it was the hardest thing I could do as an unsure 17-year old, pitching, and getting rejected and then re-pitching to the Eagle board a project for bettering my community, cold-calling organizations to set up that project, leading hundreds of kids and adults to complete what I had planned. Also all of the merit badges, and everything else that goes into this, it deters most high school kids.
    It made a lot of who I am today, and I am ashamed of that organization for what they keep holding to and what they will be embarrassed by in the future.  I applaud what your husband did, and I think it would be hard for me to do the same. 
    He has done a powerful thing.

    • Greg Miller says:

       I’m an Eagle Scout, and won’t be sending mine in. I’m proud of the people that I earned it with, and the council that I earned it in. That being said, that was up in Alaska, where the troops were much more driven by the outdoors aspect than by religion (except for the mormon troops, of course). That being said, I will never give them any of my money until this changes. I plan on having children someday, and had hoped to enroll any boys that I had in Boy Scouts (heck, girls too if we could change it to just plain ‘Scouts’ like in the UK and elsewhere), but unless they change and this and on religious requirements, I won’t have anything else to do with them.

      • Jon Dean says:

        You could also just send them a letter saying what you just said – that’s also a powerful sentiment.

      • Dylan Baker says:

        Was that Troop 214? I think I remember your name.

        And thank you for saving me the time to type all that out, word for word, because that’s exactly how I feel about it.

        • Greg Miller says:

           Troop 10, in Fairbanks. Sadly, our troop size was very driven by scouts coming in from Pack 22, and it died (shriveled to nothing), so the same thing happened to our troop. But I’m proud to have been in with the scouts I was with.

          • Dylan Baker says:

            Ahhh. I must have seen you on membership rolls somewhere or something. I was in Anchorage, and although of course we were a bit closer to the LDS high-ups in the urban part, I agree that Alaskan Scouting seems to be a lot less determined by policy and more by the grand wilderness we have to explore. Here’s to the good times.

          • Greg Miller says:

             (Huh, it won’t let me reply to your comment, so I’m replying here)
            Yeah, definitely a good bit of separation there. My brother was in scouts, and was in Troop 78 when they went over to Russia (then Soviet Union) in 1989. They had been told that they’d be doing military sort of stuff, but assumed it was a mis-translation. Nope – the soviet scouts threw hand grenades, fired machine guns, and parachuted out of helicopters, so out of national pride the Boy Scouts did the same.
            When they came back, they wrote up an article for Boy’s Life, and sent it in. Never got published, and some new guidelines were handed down shortly thereafter as to what Boy Scouts could and could not do.
            The joke that the adult leaders from the trip tell is that all it really took to bring down the Berlin wall (about two weeks after this trip) was a few Boy Scouts going over and throwing some hand grenades and shooting some guns.

      • wildefae says:

         Do they not have Girl Scouts in Alaska? Or did you mean, you’d rather have any of your kids in the same troop?

    • millie fink says:

      Please keep thinking about it. You can do it! You’ll feel better, without a doubt.

  19. I loved being a Scout when I was a kid – and I’m really proud that Scouting in the UK continues to be a great thing for all young people (male and female, gay and straight) to do.  Its a real shame that the US movement isn’t following in those footsteps – and kudos to those who oppose the ridiculous position it currently adopts.

    • heng says:

       The Scout Association still prohibit open atheists.

      • I think that’s why Camp Quest came up. It was made for atheists’ kids. It’s not everywhere, but they just opened up a branch (troop?) near me in Seattle area, and the guys that are putting it together are seriously cool and into it. There is a skeptical scouting group called Camp Quest, and if you are raising kids that are non-religious, they do a lot of cool critical thinking stuff. http://www.campquest.org/

    • sarakenobi says:

      Girl Scouts is completely different and far more accepting  . I would gladly let my fictional daughter join, but my real sons will not be in BSA.

      • I hope that Girl Scouts has changed in other ways, though. When I was in it, we didn’t get to do nearly as many cool things as the Boy Scouts did. I dropped out in junior high because the troops in my town were focused on crafts and cookies and if you went camping at all, it was in air-conditioned cabins with electricity. 

        Personally, when I have children, I’d prefer to put them in a co-ed program. Sex-split scouting took me away from a lot of my friends (who were guys) and seems, to me anyway, to have set the stage for heavily gendered spaces where boys learn “boy” things and girls learn “girl” things. That’s not what I want for my kids.

        • sarakenobi says:

           I think it depends on the area and the troop and the interests of the girls.  I remember roughing it, but also a hygiene badge that had makeup and deoderant and whatnot :p  in high school my troop went shoppin at an outlet mall and we also went on vacation to historical Williamsburg and white water rafting. 

        • Jardine says:

          Damn. I wish I was in Girl Scouts instead. Air conditioning would have been awesome. I assume they also had working toilets.

        • Beth Z says:

           Agreed on the girl scouts; I was in it for two years when I was younger, but their focus was really mostly on the cookie sales and a few sad little craft projects. I would have loved if it was as skill-oriented as the Boy Scouts, but in most cases it really isn’t, so I dropped out. I don’t even think there’s anything equivalent to Eagle Scout for the Girl Scouts, which is too bad.

          • They do, actually. Or, rather, they have a medal/award that should be the equivalent. But it’s nowhere near the cultural equivalent. I’ve never known or met any woman who stayed in Girl Scouts through that level. 

          • Jimmy Tyler says:

            There’s the Gold Award, which basically entails putting in loads of hours on a community service project which must be designed to run itself after the Girl Scout has stopped working on it. My friends’ Gold Award projects have included running teen suicide prevention websites and teaching self-defense classes for young women. Unfortunately, one doesn’t get the same opportunities for achieving the Gold Award as one gets for becoming an Eagle Scout.

        • We camped in real tents when I was a Girl Scout back in the 1970s.  We learned woodcraft and tracking and CPR and cooking over a fire.

          I never baked a cookie, though.

        • chgoliz says:

          Recently went to a 35-year-reunion at a beloved Girl Scout camp.  Apparently the state required plumbing at some point after we were there, so the latrines now have actual toilets and group sinks.  The tents on wooden platforms are still there, though.  The summer sessions are not-quite-as-full with girls who know how to have a wonderful time without makeup, electricity, or shopping.  And the songs remain (mostly) the same.

        • Jimmy Tyler says:

          When I was in Girl Scouts a few years ago (when I was 12-13), before I came out as a trans boy and left my troop, we were all about the camping, hiking, adventuring stuff. The first Girl Scout thing I ever did with Troop 9 was go on a camping trip to help build new, antelope-friendly fences. We pitched our tents in the rain, at night, and all of our food was made in a Dutch oven or over a campfire. Hell, I learned how to make a good chocolate cake in a Dutch oven. We even mocked the two troops of Boy Scouts on the trip who were sleeping in RVs with electricity, using lighter fluid to start up their campfire, and watching movies projected onto the side of their RV. This was all in central Arizona, for reference. 

          Here’s a question: why is it that Eagle Scouts can get scholarships, job opportunities, and other benefits that Girl Scouts who attain their Gold Award (which requires the same work as becoming an Eagle Scout) don’t?

          • chgoliz says:

            Oh, I’m sure there’s a good explanation.

            …waiting….

          • Wowbagger_Infinitley_Prolonged says:

            I may not have gotten a scholarship specifically for my Gold Award, but it helped me earn others.  It also helped me in job interviews.  It may not be as widely known, but other Girl Scouts know it.

        • Wowbagger_Infinitley_Prolonged says:

           It all depends on your troop.  My troop camped, backpacked, participated in service projects and even did some “girly” things, too.  Most of my troop was involved in summer camps and council-level planning as, well.  

          To anyone who’s  daughter doesn’t like her troop, find her another one.  Or start one yourself.  

        • Susan Carley Oliver says:

           As so many others have already stated, it does depend on the troop.  When I was a Brownie and a Cadet my mom was my troop leader, and, thinking back, community service was our emphasis (tearing up – I now realise I need to thank her for that).

          When I was a junior, I joined a troop that was all about hiking and camping.  I kid you not – I whittled an award-winning tent stake!

      • Navin_Johnson says:

         Girl Scouts are a radical, communist front for Planned Parenthood.  Or so an Indiana lawmaker told me…

        http://articles.latimes.com/2012/feb/22/nation/la-nn-na-girl-scouts-homosexuality-abortion-20120222

  20. Ari B. says:

    I’m honestly a little tempted to do something similar. Maybe send back my medal and my Order of the Arrow sash. That said, I’m not sure I’d want them to have the satisfaction. I’m definitely going to pull Eagle Scout off of my resume until they shape up. I don’t want people to think that I agree with the organization as it currently exists.

    • Andrew Singleton says:

      Wouldn’t give them the satisfaction?

      This is resigning in disgust man. What would satisfy ‘em is if Eagles and OA members started coming out of the wood works defending policy.
      Your choice is your own, but I’d ask that you at least write a letter explaining your dissatisfaction.

  21. bobkat says:

    I also dropped out of scouting because of the heavy religious overtones (I am an atheist).  But bravo to Christopher and Andrew for taking a stand and publicly acting on their principles!  I applaud their actions.

  22. paul beard says:

    Good for them. I was one of the many who didn’t quite close the deal but this is the first occasion I have had to regret not having earned mine.

  23. Sigmund_Jung says:

    Wow. Guy just showed he really deserved that medal.

  24. Pete Akkerman says:

     “Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”
    Chris, you remain true and with or without the medal, as far as I can see, you will always be an Eagle Scout; Even when the BSA strays.

  25. benenglish says:

    “Eagle Scout” was a powerful thing to put on a CV.  In the future, I imagine, “Eagle Scout, resigned” will be considered even more honorable.

  26. ChicagoD says:

    I was never a Scout, so this is coming from a theoretical place, but he will always have the accomplishment of an Eagle Scout. He won’t have the medal, but the community service project was still done, etc.

    • Christopher says:

      One of the first things I was told, and it was repeated often, was “Once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout”.

      Unfortunately I feel I’ve been put in the position of being proud of having earned the award but ashamed of the organization that gave it to me.

      • ChicagoD says:

        I guess I was thinking more of being proud of the works *behind* the award, divorcing them at some level from the award and the organization.

      • Ari B. says:

        I think we’re in the same boat.

      • Susan Carley Oliver says:

         Hm…no one “gave” you that award (reminds me of students claiming that teachers “give” them grades).  An organisation set up a very stringent list of standards, and you worked your butt off to meet those standards.  You *earned* that award; the organisation just recognised your effort.

  27. jennybean42 says:

    This has been one of the major areas of contention in my relationship with my husband. I was a girl scout, he was a boy scout and when we had a son I knew I’d never want him in the Boy Scouts. My husband says, “but it wasn’t like that in my troop..” which may very well be true.
    I wish there was a viable alternative for my son.
    I usually end the conversation by saying
     The KKK could have the best private school in the whole damn country and I wouldn’t send my kid there.

    • colinadams says:

       I would believe your husband, I was in a troop in Berkeley, and you can be sure that they would never enforce such a homophobic ban.  I got a lot out of scouts, and there is no way I would have camped and hiked and learned crafts and skills as much with just my parents taking me every few weeks.  I learned from all of the fathers and mothers, which was like having 20 uncles and aunts that had time for me every week.
       I would suggest that you just look into your local ones, and see if they tow the party line, and ask direct questions about it.  If they are bigots, they should have to confront that in themselves, and see the effect as you keep your son from joining their group.  If they are good people that disagree with the organization, they could be good teachers of character for your son.

      • townandgownie says:

         What’s the difference what your local troop does when the organization is homophobic and anti-atheist. Again, people rationalizing their association with organizations that should be disbanded.

        • Susan Masten says:

          One reason to remain is that changing the organization from outside is virtually impossible.  It will take those within the organization who believe in inclusion and nondiscrimination and who value the other aspects of BSA to stand up to the national board to affect change.  It will take parents and leaders to ensure that their troops are open, inclusive,  and not homophobic and theist.   Together we can affect change.

  28. mypalmike says:

    I only got as far as cub scouts. I found the meetings, particularly the ritual aspects thereof, to be pretty weird and mentally constraining at a time when I was secretly developing into an atheist. Much as I applaud people taking stances against bigotry, the scouting system seems to be geared towards generating structures around kids that don’t necessarily mesh well with questioning god or fighting the pressures to conform to a certain mode of sexuality.

    • snagglepuss says:

      I was kicked out of the Cub Scouts for being honest and determined. The den mother’s rat-fuck son (also a Cub) was a thieving, bullying little liar, and the rest of the troop were too scared of him to stand up to him. I wasn’t, so, I set him up and let his mom catch him red-handed – And she absolved him and threw me out.

      Not the material of which den mothers were supposed to be made. I complained to the local scouting higher-ups, and never heard back from them. About half of my old troop left and went elsewhere, but my stigma followed me when I tried to do the same. So, fuck the BSOA. The bullshit starts at the lowest levels…

      • hymenopterid says:

        I had a problem with all the baloney associated with scouting.  There is a lot of lip service and memorization devoted to values, but when the rubber hits the road it’s just another excuse for like minded parents to have a potluck where they can agree with each other.  As a kid I just drifted away from that toward relationships that were more pertinent to me.

    • Hanglyman says:

       My Cub Scout leader was a very kind and intelligent man who taught us about nature and Native American mythology. Religion was never a big part of it, and sexuality never even came up. It was just good clean fun, campouts, storytelling and warm memories. Then I graduated into Boy Scouts and almost immediately quit. All I knew at the time was that it “stopped being fun”, but looking back now, I can see that the new scouts were macho assholes, and there was more emphasis on Christianity and a quasi-military mindset at a time when I was becoming a Wiccan (and later became an atheist). A few years after I quit I took a journalism class and the focus was BSA’s bigotry against gays, at which point I instantly lost all respect for the organization.

      I still have respect for that Cub Scout leader, though. He made a permanent, positive difference in my life despite being part of a corrupt organization.

  29. cubby96 says:

    I am an Eagle Scout.  I also spent about 8 years as an adult scout leader after I finished college.  I spent two summers on staff at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, went on two treks there as a youth, and even led a crew as an adult.  I have been a volunteer fundraiser for the BSA through the Friends of Scouting program, and I have donated personally. 

    All that to say that I agree with the position your husband has taken, and understand the difficulty involved in his decision to return his medal.  I have not sent my medal in, and do not think I could bring myself to do so.  Though sending the medal itself is symbolic, as it cannot be un-earned, I assume doing so would also mean that I could no longer in good conscience declare myself publicly to be an Eagle Scout.  This is something I take great pride in and the cost is too high for me personally.

    The flip side of this, of course, is that as a private organization the BSA absolutely has every right to take the position they have taken.  They believe that this issue matters to their core group of members, many of whom are evangelical Christians.  Sadly, they are probably right.  Changing this position would likely cost them more members than it would gain, even though it is the right decision.  At a time when membership is dropping quickly, it might be too bitter a pill to swallow.  Sending back your award will mean a lot to some of the executive decision makers, but others will simply write it off as a minority of voices, or spin it as political posturing.  That is disappointing.

    • millie fink says:

      The flip side of this, of course, is that as a private organization the BSA absolutely has every right to take the position they have taken.

      Straw Man Alert!

      I don’t think anyone here is saying the organization has no right to its bigotry. 

      Most are instead applauding those who take the noble step of declaring, from their position of well-earned respect, that while being bigoted is a right, it’s not the right way to be.

      • cubby96 says:

        It behooves us as members of such an organization to let our leaders know when we disagree with the tenets they put forth.  The point I was getting to was that they probably won’t listen.  If that sentence offends you so much, please read the rest of that paragraph, as the argument stands as well without it.

        • townandgownie says:

           Heaven forbid an organization that  promotes trustworthiness as a core believe would would adhere to it’s own principles.

          Guess with guys like you there’s no need.

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      At a time when membership is dropping quickly, it might be too bitter a pill to swallow.

      If they were more welcoming maybe they’d get more interest? Wouldn’t be surprised if the conservative bent of the whole thing turns off a lot of parents. I know it was one aspect of scouting that I really disliked during my brief time in the scouts. That, and the scoutmaster’s creepy older (jesus freak) son and his friends bullying us younger kids mercilessly.

    • jandrese says:

      > Changing this position would likely cost them more members than it would gain, even though it is the right decision.

      Doing the right thing, even when it is hard, is one of the core fundamentals of being a Scout. 

    • ffabian says:

      A very brave Eagle Scout indeed.

    • townandgownie says:

       Hypocrite alert. Why would I want my kids to be taught by a person such as you? However I would support you as someone that could create the newest badge – Rationalization Skills.

    • noggin says:

      I applaud you and all other Eagle Scouts for the achievement.  The two Eagle Scouts I have known are both admirable men.  But the BSA no longer values Eagle Scout achievements the way you did when you earned yours.   It seems the cost to you in keeping it might be higher than you think.  

      As I see it, the issue for these Eagle Scouts isn’t about getting the BSA to change, it is about being true to their oaths.

      Depending on how you look at it, you now have the opportunity to either restore your achievement that the BSA has devalued, or go beyond it.  Write a letter, take a picture of the medal and send it in.

  30. Cyran0 says:

    A friend recently posted the Martin Cizmar picture to his Facebook.
    My reply:

    “”It’s not easy to part with a badge which represented my young life’s biggest accomplishment . . .”

    I disagree, Martin.

    Seems to me that turning into such a fine, upstanding man is your young life’s biggest accomplishment.”

  31. jfruh says:

    Here’s another one:

    http://www.towleroad.com/2012/07/straight-eagle-scout-returns-badge-in-protest-of-anti-gay-boy-scouts.html#.UAmgOZweQ7A.twitter“As an adult I also understand that such policy changes are fraught with complications, possibly including the defection of members affiliated with certain religious groups with dire financial impliciations. It’s a tough position, but a scout is brave.”

  32. Quiche de Resistance says:

    WOW.  Looks like you picked a good one Maggs.

  33. jitter12 says:

    Wow.  Not only is Chris a former Eagle Scout, he is also a licensed architect, licensed engineer, and an MBA?  This man “might” be goal oriented ;) 

  34. vinculture says:

    Standing up for what’s right? You’re doing it right.

  35. Ronald Pottol says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/boy-scouts-gay-ban_n_1679854.html
    “The announcement suggests that hurdles may be high for a couple of members of the national executive board – Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson – who have recently indicated they would try to work from within to change the membership policy. Both of their companies have been commended by gay-rights groups for gay-friendly employment policies. Stephenson is on track to become president of the Scouts’ national board in 2014, and will likely face continued pressure from gay-rights groups to try to end the exclusion policy. ”

    So perhaps there is an opening for change in two years.

    Rank of Star, and Order Of The Arrow.

  36. Jim Saul says:

    Such a shame that the pride of that achievement is poisoned by the current bigots running the organization.

    They won’t last forever.

  37. jonathan_v says:

    I never made it to Eagle, by choice.  Half of me was disillusioned with the Christian undertones (I was decidedly Atheist early on) and the other half was disgusted by the numerous amounts of anti-gay and racist rhetoric I heard at the summer camp / merit-badge farms.  ( None came from my troop / friends – it was just disheartening to see “Eagle Scouts” spewing shit. )  I had 3 years to complete the service project, but didn’t bother-  I effectively dropped out, going to a minimum of  scout meetings to merely stay active and milk it for a checkmark on my college applications [ I invested several years in it, I wanted something out of it ].

    The point I want to make, is the stances the Boy Scouts have taken on and don’t just affect the gays or atheists scouts/adults — but teach a sense of second-class citzenry and that it’s okay to exclude , discriminate and chastise others.  That thinking permeates the entire organization, and it can have disastrous effects — It  was really heartbreaking to see people awarded an honor for community service or leadership, hours after they’ve amused their friends and leaders telling endless racist , gay , “jew” or whatever jokes.  It is telling impressionable young people that it is not just okay to exclude “others”… and that order is coming from the leadership of the most ‘righteous’ of groups.  It’s ironic that , while the US Government has decided that it’s wrong to discriminate against people for these reasons, the BSA defends that practice – all those citizenship merit badges start to look real funny.

    Perhaps the BSA and I disagreed too much on what Leadership and Morals mean, but I failed to see the point in decorating and celebrating people who act like that.  The words “Eagle Scout” , to me, have little meaning.  They only signify that someone earned a bunch of badges and did a large service project.  Having been inside the organization, they speak absolutely nothing to the character or integrity of that person.  I don’t know if they truly are a standup person, are someone who I’d characterize as morally reprehensible, or the kind of person that just puts up with the crap and is silent about it.

  38. James Fehlinger says:

    > Eagle Scout is a big deal. . . you end up with the award
    > representing a relatively small and elite group.
    > For many men, it’s a lifelong position—and one that demonstrates
    > a commitment to serving others and caring for the community.

    It’s certainly no guarantee of good character, though.
    One of the murderers of Matthew Shepard was an Eagle Scout.

    • ChicagoD says:

      Well, I think that even Eagle Scouts still have parents, experiences, and other inputs into their characters. This sort of piling on strikes me as excessive. Nothing but good character guarantees good character. Bad people are everywhere.

    • Peppermint says:

      And Hitler was a vegetarian, yes, we know.

    • ldobe says:

      And actors killed Lincoln!

      Sorry, I had to at least try to interject a little humor.  Sorry if it splatters

  39. hanoverfiste says:

    I have been involved in Cub Scout leadership for a little over 5 years now and my oldest son is about to move over in to Boy Scouts.  Nothing in this policy affects me personally.  I teach my children that need to be tolerant and respectful of all people.

    I know a lot of people would like to see this policy change, but as much as it hurts I don’t they can just change the policy overnight.  If memory serves correctly, BSA is maybe the only organization like this that have won supreme court battles to keep LGBT out.

    In the past many of the Packs and Troops were charted by public schools and civic organizations.  Now the majority are churches, with the largest number being Latter Day Saints followed by First United Methodist.  Many of the things a Pack or Troop does can be directed by the Charter Organization.  I believe there was situation last year where a pack that charted by Baptist would not allow a Latter Day Saint to be a leader and BSA was OK with that.

    So even if BSA were to make a change, they might still allow the individuals units determine what they thought was “appropriate’  for them.

    Mr. Mazzucca is retiring this year, so that may result in changes when his replacement comes.

    In general I think social change is going to take time for society and with that I applaud anyone that is standing up for what they think is right.  To me the bigger issue is that BSA has had number of issues regarding sexual misconduct/molestation, and this isn’t even unique to orientation because last year a Female Troop leader got in trouble.

    People want to feel safe when they drop their kids off to Scouts. Training policies have been in place and leaders must certify every 2 years.  Basically, no scout can be left one on one with a leader if it not their child. Scouts and leader can’t stay in the same tents or be in rest rooms at the same time.

    I think the biggest problem are small minded bigots that thing LGBT=Pedophile.  How to educate against that I do not know.

    • Rindan says:

      They don’t have to change overnight, but people don’t have to send their kids or consider boy Scouts honorable or worthwhile. I know that someone who puts boy Scouts on their resume is putting a black mark on their resume for me. It makes me suspect you are a bigot, which is something I can’t have in a diverse work place.

      So, I understand their challenges, but it doesn’t excuse bigotry. Right is right. If the goal of the boy Scouts is to become a bigoted religious sect that only means something positive in the more bigoted parts of the South, they can double down and keep doing what they are doing.

      • hanoverfiste says:

         I may only be bigot by association or playing it safe by not making any noise.  We haven’t quit over this policy.  

        This may be part of the problem, there are a lot of people that don’t want to rock the boat, especially when it not affecting them personally.  

        My best friend from High School was gay, when he came out to his parents he ended up leaving home at 17.  I asked my parents if he could stay with us but they said no. 

        • hanoverfiste says:

          On my commute home some more thoughts came to mind.
          I am probably more of a hypocrite than a bigot.

          The point of my original post was to give more of background where I think many scouters, scout families, and the BSA is coming from.

          In reality the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell really goes again the scout law and I’m sure some one smarter than me could come up with one for each reason, that why its not complete or in order..

          A Scout (or leader)  is:
          Trustworthy – Honest about their orientation;
          Loyal – Stands up for  friends and family regardless of orientation;
          Kind – Wouldn’t say bad things about someone regardless..;
          Brave – Will stand up for what is right
          Reverent  – If man is made in God’s image than that image may have one of several orientations.

          This Eagle’s of (Dis) Honor are brave for turning in their medals.

          BSA is a large Non Goverment Organization.  NGOs need lots of donations, they may work with focus groups just politicians do to see what policy changes will affect their base and the dollars coming in.  I sure know they beg us for money and get a huge chuck of popcorn sales.

          I am probably a smaller person for not giving up scouts just because this policy in not inclusive.   I am sorry that for many people they might as well be the Hate Scouts of America because of it.

  40. HarveyBoing says:

    “Since 1999, the total number of traditional scouts has fallen by 20%. Who knows how much of that has to do with this discriminatory policy”

    I agree there are probably other factors. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the non-inclusive nature of the BSA is a major part. It’s certainly why our own three boys (just reaching scouting age now) are enrolled in local outdoor and leadership organizations rather than the Boy Scouts, in spite of my mostly-positive experiences as a scout myself growing up.

    If I had any idea where my Eagle Scout badge was (other than “some random box the location of which is a mystery”), I’d send it back too. As it is, I’ll have to settle for my brief note to the BSA, explaining why our boys aren’t joining the Scouts and why I have some embarassment of my own association with the BSA.

    • Greg Miller says:

       I’ve heard that the main reason scouting was shrinking was due to the fact that it wasn’t ‘cool’ anymore – there was a lot of stuff that boy scouts weren’t allowed to do because it was ‘too dangerous’. They recently changed on this, and have allowed some more activities (4-wheeling is the only one that comes to mind).

      However, I bet that non-inclusivity is a large, non-measurable portion of that loss, or possibly one they don’t want to acknowledge.

  41. Roger Eberhart says:

    My Eagle award went in a dumpster many years ago (hopefully it’s biodegradable). I wish I’d thought of sending it back to them. I did send them a letter recently when they wrote to me, as a former Eagle scout, asking for donations. I’m agnostic and have many gay and lesbian friends, co-workers, and relatives. I’m sorry to have wasted years of my life helping that organization. I did not know better at the time and my religious views were still evolving at that age. The bigotry in this organization is not a recent development. Also, Eagle Scouts have been returning their Eagle awards for many years now (http://www.scoutingforall.org/data/layer02/eaglebadge.html).

  42. Justin says:

    Check out Navigators USA.  Small but growing in response to situations like this.  Our local chapter was recently profiled in the Cincinnati Enquirer as an alternative to the BSA.

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/20120720/NEWS/307200038/Exclusion-gays-makes-some-navigate-away-from-Boy-Scouts

  43. AnthonyI says:

    There may be a time where being an Eagle Scout will become a liability.

  44. David Evans says:

    Here in the UK, Scouting is more than tolerant of gay, lesbian and transgender scouts and leaders, there is a movement to actively recruit and retain members http://www.flagscouts.org.uk/ There is also a series of resources for gay scouts including “It’s OK to be gay and a scout” which has these paragraphs 

    “Once you have told people that you are gay you may find that your friends and family treat you differently. Sometimes this won’t change but often in time it won’t make any difference that you are gay because they accept “you” for being “you” and not for being gay.”

    “Unfortunately there are homophobic people who will never accept your lifestyle. If you encounter these sorts of people there are professional organisations that specialise in supporting you through such issues. Below are some suggested organisations that you can phone and speak to someone about your personal circumstances.”

  45. penguinchris says:

    Lots of people are wondering about alternatives to the Boy Scouts, so I thought I’d share my experience. Growing up and even through high school I had only a vague idea of what the Boy Scouts were. I think a couple people I knew were Boy Scouts, but not my close friends. It seemed weird to me and not something I was interested in (I was a weird kid and an atheist from a young age, I suspect my parents knew not to get me to try the Boy Scouts).

    However, I learned rather a large amount of outdoorsman/orienteering type skills growing up. I’m an expert canoeist (though I’m out of practice these days), expert at orienteering and mapping (much better than any other geologists I know), have leadership experience in life-or-death situations, etc. I don’t know for sure, but I think my experiences went far beyond what most Boy Scouts do.

    How? I attended a summer camp deep in the Canadian woods (Camp Pathfinder in Algonquin Park, ON) from ages 7-15, and worked there as a counselor (and ultimately, science educator) for several summers after that. The primary focus of the camp is deep-woods canoe tripping. It’s boys-only but there’s an equivalent “hardcore” summer camp in Algonquin Park for girls called Northway Lodge.

    Everybody I know who went to the camp – even for just a year or two – will tell you the same thing that we’re hearing from people here who were Boy Scouts. The experience deeply shaped the person they became, and taught them things you don’t learn anywhere else. It makes you a better person.

    Not all summer camps are like that one, of course, but there are similarly high-quality camps all over the place if you look carefully. You might not be able to just send your kid to the one that’s closest to you if you want the best. They can be expensive, unfortunately. A Pathfinder alum runs a scholarship fund that gets tens of thousands of dollars each year in donations to send a bunch of kids to the camp whose parents can’t afford it. I don’t think that’s something you’ll see everywhere though.

    • noah django says:

       similar story.  my camp included awesome outdoor activities and trips, then had several no-electricity branches for older kids, which I attended.  and I was a scholarship, I was poor.  so if the camp that either you attended or that your child attends has a scholarship fund, and you have the means, *please* donate!  and thanks to all those that do.  big, big thanks.

      I continued with canoeing into whitewater with a group called TSRA that my godmother was a part of:  http://www.paddletsra.org/
      basically a bunch of weekend warriors that organized river runs, canoe and kayak schools, and conservation efforts.  really a great group.  plus you get lots of knot-tying, emergency rescue/cpr training, and all the canoe schools were camp-outs at state parks.  I liked the kids, but I liked being around all the adults, too.

      So, yeah, there are other great outlets for this kind of stuff for kids outside of BSA.  The other scouting organizations mentioned ITT sound pretty danged cool, too.

      as for the larger thread–I may not have scouted, but I was familiar enough with Eagle Scouts to have immediately grasped the enormity of their protest.  this is huge!  there were some onions cut on this end, particularly Mr. Giannini’s letter.  you gentlemen are AWESOME!

  46. Christopher says:

    I’ve tried to read through all the comments, and there’s one thing I haven’t seen addressed yet. While the right of the Boy Scouts to have discriminatory policies is something everyone seems to agree on, there’s an aspect of those policies I think may have been overlooked.

    A young man can become a Boy Scout when he turns eleven. At that age not all of them will know whether they’re gay, bisexual, or transgendered. Some may be precocious enough, but others won’t be certain enough even to admit the fact to themselves for years. Those who come to the realization while they’re still Scouts will have to be prepared to either keep the fact to themselves or leave the organization.

    Not every young man will be an atheist at the age of eleven. (I freely admit the possibility, though, that atheists are born that way.) Those who realize they are atheists while they’re still Scouts will have to be prepared to keep the fact to themselves or leave the organization.

    There are also young men who are straight and religious who nevertheless have gay, bisexual, or transgendered friends, and friends who are atheists. They will have to be prepared to grapple with the question of whether they want to stay in an organization that believes their friends aren’t good enough.

    The Boy Scout motto is “Be prepared”. I don’t want to impose changes on the Boy Scouts from outside, but I hope the organization’s leaders will consider what they’re asking every eleven-year old who joins to be prepared for.

    • Dylan Baker says:

      The organization’s leaders do consider this; the problem is that the top-level leadership is very institutionalized LDS. Speaking as an Eagle, I can say with certainty that at the bottom levels, there are in fact a lot of people who are displeased with the ‘takeover’, but unfortunately the LDS brings a lot of money (and not a lot of character) to the table.

      Note, for instance, that the way the BSA decided to reaffirm this policy was by way of a ‘discreetly’ formed 11-person council, chosen by ‘top Scout leaders’… and not by asking the membership as a whole. I’m not usually one for the whole Illuminati conspiracy thing (except in jest, thank you Steve Jackson), but the whole thing smacks of People Who Know What’s Best doing everything they can to quell opposition.
      http://brainerddispatch.com/news/2012-07-17/despite-protests-boy-scouts-reaffirm-ban-gays

      And of course, you’re absolutely right. I played along with the generally Protestant tone of my troop until I was about 15, at which point I converted to Discordianism (insofar as anyone actually does) and started just crossing my fingers and remaining silent during prayer.

    • noah django says:

      good point, sir.  well said.

      and yes, atheists are “born that way,” or perhaps the obverse of that coin “not indoctrinated into religion from birth.”  a very early memory of mine was discussing what religion we were in kindergarten.  I said “none,” and nobody could believe it.  one kid confronted me:  “you HAVE to be SOMETHING!”  a very early lesson in keeping my mouth shut.

  47. Elisabeth says:

    While I respect and support those of you who are returning your Eagle Scout medals, consider an alternative: stay in and work toward a leadership position from which you can change the policy from the inside. THAT will make a huge difference for so many more.

    • Greg Miller says:

       Are you mormon? If not, don’t expect to be able to easily climb the ranks.

    • Karl says:

       The decision was apparently made by the Executive Council, which sounds to me like the group of (corporate?) sponsors or their representatives, and NOT the leaders of local troops or councils. In order to be in a position to be part of this decision in the future you’d have to become a major sponsor, meaning big $$$. So, pay your money and you can change the course of the organization.

  48. perch says:

    I never got that far in scouts.

    In fact, I had to quit the Boy Scouts because of constant harassment. I was never included in activities, was always teased and made to feel othered.

    Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, I’m a trans* person as well as a dyke.

    Maybe some day it’ll be easier for kids that were like me.

    • ldobe says:

      I know how you feel, and as a former Eagle let me say I’m deeply sorry for your terrible experience with the organization.  When I was a young scout, I had a peer of the same age who was relentlessly teased, taunted, made fun of behind — And in front — of his back, was bullied, and was beaten on more than one occasion.

      He was a slightly effeminate boy.  His father is also effeminate, but claims not to be gay (I asked privately, I take him at his word.  Genuinely wonderful kind-hearted man.)

      As we gained in the ranks, I became a pretty powerful player in the troop.  I made it my policy to not make enemies but still work hard as a leader.

      My greatest regret was my cowardly inaction at seeing this boy suffer.  At first, I rationalized it saying to myself that “a little hazing is okay for people, or even good for some.  He’ll soon learn to not be such a pussy, or look so queer.”

      It’s a black mark on my soul, and today I’m out, (bi if anyone cares to know.) and can see that my obvious cowardice and refusal to be a decent human was because I was afraid of being outed as well.  It was one of those denial things: If I let the others tease the effeminate boy, that proves I’m not gay.  If I stick up for him it’ll prove I’m as queer as he is.

      In conclusion, I was a coward, and it will haunt me for the rest of my life.  Even though scouting contributed so much to my maturation, I still will have to live with my selfish choice to not rock the boat in exchange for a little temporary power and security.

  49. Troutwaxer says:

    Maggie, your husband totally rocks!

  50. Ipo says:

     Being in no way associated with any Boy Scouts, I feel spontaneously entitled to bestow you gentlemen with the highest imaginary award I can imagine for a Boy Scout of America. 
    You graduate with honors to the rank of Former Eagle Scouts. 

    For setting an example to all, beyond the call of duty. 

  51. Diddy_Mao says:

     Never quite made it to Eagle Scout myself, but only just. I made it to Life and aged out of the organization before my service project could be completed.

    Still during my time there I was a Varsity Scout since the age of 14, earned more than my fair share of service awards and more importantly learned the critical thinking, and problem solving skills which I use on a daily basis.

    Even more importantly I forged friendships with my fellow Scouts which 15 years later I still maintain.

    If I had been fortunate enough to have been awarded the Eagle Scout rank I would gladly join the ranks of those whom have returned theirs.

    As it stand please know that you have my support.

  52. Jeff Hess says:

    Good afternoon friends,

    Mine went back on Tuesday.

    http://havecoffeewillwrite.com/?p=31608

    We should all remember August of 1974 when it was a proud time to be an Eagle Scout.

    Do all you can to make today a good day.

    Jeff

    Have Coffee Will Write

  53. Andrew Stanton says:

    I wrote this Saturday morning then boxed up my Eagle badge, Eagle wallet ID, ring, et al…

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pazFKOxGFRr-omw6MkpVANcLnH8lFaO81r3ZIMuoDeg/edit?pli=1 

  54. Kelly M says:

    Maybe my google-fu is weak, but can anyone kindly provide a link to some well-sourced reading on how the BSA has been taken over (sounds like by the Mormons)?

    Reading through the comments here and some weak googling, I find a lot of side-references and such, but I’d like to get a fuller understanding.

    As to the OP, thank you so much for posting this, Maggie, as well as the other letters.  Its very moving reading.

    • Greg Miller says:

       Personally, the council (local organization) leaders were all Mormons, but it didn’t show up in many policies, mainly because the were very much in the minority.

      Nationally, I don’t know if there’s direct control, but the Mormons at least have a large influence with the threat of voting with their feet – the threat has been that if the BSA allows gays, that the Mormon church would stop sponsoring all the troops that it does, stop enrolling all its young men in scouting, and totally withdraw all funding from the BSA, all of which would have a sizeable financial impact on the BSA.

      • Kelly M says:

        Thanks for the reply, Greg!  I was hoping there’d be some “definitive” article somewhere, but no luck so far.

        • - steward - says:

          It isn’t really so much that it’s been taken over, as it’s not kept up with current social mores.  The original DSM (American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) classified homosexuality as a perversion; the current one does not.  The values that the BSA espouse are in direct opposition to what they do; but in years past, much of society – including those in the mental health field – did not see it that way.

          So the main groups that remain in support of the BSA are the homophobic religions such as the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  That’s where you’ll find the Pack and Troop meetings, because discrimination on sexual orientation is banned in most public venues. There’s no place else to go except into the loving arms of their fellow homophobes.

  55. Erin Howarth says:

    I whole heartedly approve of the letter writing campaign. I will very likely join in, but I fear that sending the medals back in will not bring the desired results. The BSA has stated many times that when they are considering this issue, they consider the opinions of the members. If that is true, then leaving the organization, silences your voice. The policy will change when the people running the organization think it should change. If you think the policy should change, please don’t leave. There are already plenty of people on the outside calling for change. We need more people on the inside calling for change.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      That’s the same argument that people use when they collaborate with totalitarian regimes, the same argument that performers used when they refused to stop playing in South Africa during apartheid. It doesn’t work.

      • noggin says:

        Is getting the BSA to change policy the main point here? (Although still desirable.)

        These Eagle Scouts are returning their medals as a way to remain true to the oaths which they took and as a way for their oaths and achievements to have any continued value.

        It isn’t about being a member of the BSA or being a possessor of an Eagle Scout medal.  It is about being the person they believe themselves to be, as formerly represented by that medal.

    • Susan Carley Oliver says:

       How exactly did the BSA “consider the opinions of the members”?  The committee met in secret and voted in secret, years ago, only now revealing the result of their vote. At no time was the membership polled.

  56. KvH says:

    If i can dig up my Eagle medal I’ll be doing this as well. It’s buried somewhere. I’ve refused to donate to Boy Scouts for many years because of this and their anti-atheist policy but never thought to return my medal.

    I didn’t realize until I saw your husband’s letter but there are multiple troops with the same number. Which Troop 261 was he in, I assume Texas? I was in 261 in Missouri.

  57. Uncle Geo says:

    Local packs and troops are often relatively free of any political or religious bent – preferring to simply provide a good experience for kids. When they roped me into becoming a Cubmaster -right at the time of the Supreme Court ruling- I told them fine, but that whenever this subject came up I would say that I thought it was morally wrong to teach scouts to be loyal, trustworthy, helpful, friendly, kind, etc while at the same time teaching them to be intolerant and homophobic. I also told them I was a Unitarian.

    Two families immediately moved their boys to a different pack. Two others said they had intended to after the Supreme Court decision but now they wouldn’t. It sounds like a wash but we were down two kids who could have learned a valuable moral lesson.

  58. Steve Pack says:

    I never made Eagle Scout, far from it. I never wanted to be a Scout at all, let alone an Eagle Scout. Yet somehow as a young man I found myself drafted into the Boy Scouts. That’s right, drafted.

    When I was in Jr. High my grades were not what one would call “stellar”. I was having a hard time for a number of reasons. My parents decided to send to to another school to get help, rather than see me fail a grade. When I arrived, my class was getting ready to head off on a camping trip. We would be canoeing 50 miles down the Mohican river.

    This would be a challenge for any young person who wasn’t much of an outdoors type. Now lets add in a group of emotionally, developmentally and behaviorally maladjusted kids. Some of these kids had serious problems. And yet we were expected to, as a group,  plan, purchase supplies, pack, unpack, canoe, make camp and cook for a 1 week trip. Needless to say, the trip did not go particularly smoothly. 2 kids smuggled along booze, one brought a gun. Several canoes flipped and got swamped. There were a few fights.

    When it was done, I was told we had earned a ’50 miler award’.

    “From who?”  I asked.

    “From the Boy Scouts” our teacher replied.

    “I never joined the Boy Scouts.”

    “You did when you joined this school.” he answered.”

    And there it was. I had somehow joined the Scouts. 

    We did the trip again later, as well as camped in a log cabin in February. On another camping trip half the kids got ill from bad food or water. One time while building a bridge a saw popped out of the groove and cut my thumb wide open, necessitating stitches.  I never saw that 50 miler badge, or any other badge. I’m not sure why. We had no uniforms, not even a beret. The school had no money for that and some of the kids came from poor neighborhoods.

    But a weird thing happened amongst all the misery. We worked as a team. Make no mistake, we didn’t want to, but we had to. We learned, we overcame challenges. We dealt with each other, even if we disliked – even hated each other sometimes.

    Unlike the men giving back their medals, I do not claim that Scouting made me the successful man I am today. But it did teach me a lot. And I believe it can have a positive affect on young peoples lives. At a time when ‘playing’ now consists of sitting in front on a computer for hours on end we need to get kids outside and physically active. In this age where so much interaction is carried on through “social media” we need kids to learn how to get along face-to-face in groups. Positive adult roll models always seem in short supply. We cannot protect our children by insulating them from the world and pretending people with different skin color, religious beliefs or sexuality don’t exist. The rest of society is moving past this kind of bigotry. Young people already know gay people and see no reason they should be excluded from enjoying the same rights everyone else does. Our own military no longer discriminates against openly gay members.

    Yes, the BSA is a private group and they are allowed to have whatever policies they want. But with attendance down 20% since 1999 I would think they would be interested in doing everything they can to get people involved with scouting. There are signs that change may yet come. I hope it does. If not the BSA will likely go the way of the Dodo. It will exclude itself out of existence.  Which would be a damn shame.

    Maybe if enough people, especially Scouts past and present, let the BSA know their feelings on the matter we will see some change. So consider my few badges and awards returned (even though I never got them) until such time as the BSA welcomes everyone into scouting. 

  59. ffabian says:

    ” and ignorant men who have so dishonorably abandoned the American values that I came to understand were embodied in the honor.” 

    It never occurred to me that tolerance is a specific US American value (It may be a Boy Scout value though). I had the impression the opposite is true.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Good afternoon Fabian,

      Yeah, we fall short of the ideals found in the Declaration of Independence and our Constitution as well as the Boy Scout Oath and Law, and I can even say I have problems with the overt religiosity of both, but ideals are what shape us and we ought not to toss them out because some are less perfect than others in hitting mark.

      Is tolerance a specific American Value? The 14th amendment says it is. The ideal that “All Men are created equal” says it is.

      There is no condition statement in the Scout Law. We don’t get to be courteous only to those like us or of whom we approve. A scout is courteous, full stop. A scout isn’t kind only to those who belong to his group. A scout is kind, end of story.

      That’s what I mean by the America Values I learned over 12 years of scouting, man and boy, from Cub Scout Pack 211 and Boy Scout Troop 216 in Marietta, Ohio.

      Do all you can to make today a good day,

      Jeff

  60. I was thinking of putting my boys in the Sea Scouts instead, when they were old enough.

    Guess who the parent organization is.

    Sigh.

    • D says:

      Berkeley has a Sea Scout division. The city used to let then use a slip at the marina but revoked that after their stance on acepting gay scouts/leaders.

  61. Mister44 says:

    Very well written letter. I hope it helps wake the BSA up.

  62. You wrote: “If you aren’t familiar with American Boy Scouting’s Eagle Scout award, it might be a little hard to explain how important this story really is.”

    To clarify, Eagle Scout is a rank, not an award. It is earned, not bestowed.

  63. McAllister Bryant says:

    I have been following this since the first articles came out and spoken with both Jennifer Tyrrell and the National Office back in April.  This bigotry and hate just has to stop. 

    To those who have sent in your badges…I salute you but you will always be Eagles.  And to that, we need to impress upon the National Office just what our scout leaders actually taught us when they taught us to be strong, to have honest ethics and to have an absolute moral compass.  And we could not do that and harbor bigotry and hate.  The two philosophies are exclusive.

    Eagles need to stand together on this.  If an organization does not exist, this action that Christopher has started certainly is the tinder to start a proper fire. As a 35 year systems analyst I will be more than happy to provide whatever help is necessary to light that tinder and get an organization moving forward.

    Mark Bryant
    Eagle 1970

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Good afternoon Mark,

      Well said.

      I’m glad to know I’m not the only 50+ (Honor Court 1973) Eagle here.

      Do all you can to make today a good day,

      Jeff

  64. efergus3 says:

    The BSA. Over a hundred years of tradition, unhampered by progress.

  65. redesigned says:

    I quit just before obtaining Eagle Scout because, ironically, our scout master was caught touching some of the younger boys.  I was a life scout, in order of the arrow, had damn near every merit badge possible etc. etc.  Now I’m wishing I had finished just so I could turn it in in solidarity for this worthy cause.

    Seems like organizations the repress and oppress natural healthy human sexuality end up with people that go down a messed up dark path.  I’m looking at you boy scouts and catholic church!!!

  66. I applaud and support this.  I earned my OA brotherhood in 1996, Eagle in 1997. I’ll be writing my letter tonight, I’m sure through tears.

  67. odnewman says:

    Here is the letter I read aloud to the adult leaders and youth when I resigned in 2000 following the BSA v Dale Supreme Court Decision:

    The recent Supreme Court decision to allow the Boy Scouts of America to discriminate against homosexual adult leaders has provoked controversy. Among leaders of Troop Three, there has been heated discourse over the extent to which it is morally questionable to discriminate or pragmatically distasteful to jeopardize funding. I have made my decision: I cannot continue to participate as a local leader of an organization whose national leadership upholds discrimination based on sexual orientation. I refuse to serve as an apologist for Scouting – to argue that this is a policy that is implemented in other places, but not one that we in the troop necessarily support or enforce.

    I was recently asked if I could continue to serve as an adult leader if the Boy Scout’s policy was to discriminate against people of color. My response was that, despite progressive action on the part of a local troop, continued membership would morally implicate me in an injustice. To argue that discrimination against one group is more or less acceptable than any other type of discrimination involves a moral compromise that I am unwilling to make. As the recipient of other forms of discrimination, I find this situation particularly shameful.

    I served as a youth member of the troop from 1984-1991 and as the Scoutmaster from 1996-2000. My belief in the merits of Scouting is quite strong, and this decision does not come easily. I hold a strong conviction that Scouting is capable of giving men a powerful moral foundation – my own was tempered through 16 years of campfires and service. Tradition notwithstanding, I am unwilling to compromise my dignity in implied support for any form of discrimination. I believe that any affront to human dignity demands King’s response from Birmingham confinement: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

    To the youth of the troop, I bid you a fond farewell and to the leaders, I thank you for the strong support you have shown so many times. Unless the national leadership of the Boy Scouts of America reverses its policy, this letter constitutes my formal resignation from Scouting leadership.

    Respectfully,

    Oscar D Newman

  68. qazwart says:

    When I was in Boy Scouts (Cub Scouts actually), I was in a PTA sponsored pack. We met in the school. Now, the Boy Scouts aren’t allowed to meet in schools and PTAs will no longer sponsor chapters due to their anti-gay, anti-atheist stance. In fact, many religious groups refuse to sponsor chapters or allow the Boy Scouts to meet in their buildings.

    And, as for funding, the United Way in most areas no longer will support the Boy Scouts. Again, it’s due to their anti-gay, anti-atheist stance. Because of the loss of funding, there is less publicity and fewer troops. Even if a boy wants to join, they’d be hard pressed to find any local group.

    And, unfortunately, the fewer boys that join Boy Scouts, the more Boy Scouts is entrapped by the anti-gay groups that control the organization. The biggest supporter of Boy Scouts is the Church of the Latter Day Saints which controls somewhere between a third to 1/2 of all boy scouts troops and registration. Almost all Mormon boys are registered as scouts, and the Boy Scouting program in Mormon churches has become part of the Mormon church program.

    This has actually been a problem because many Mormon boys are really not active in Boy Scouts although registered, and much of the boy-lead leadership that’s suppose to be taking place isn’t happening: http://dailyross.com/2010/02/the-bsas-mormon-problem/. 

    Boy Scout councils are being consolidated and camp grounds are being sold. The organization that once represented boyhood is slowly disappearing. There are lots of reasons for this, but the anti-gay bias of the organization is chasing away too many potential members, causing organizations that once were the bedrock of scouting to cut their ties, and has really hurt their ability to fund raise.

    Unfortunately, as Boy Scouts shrink, the ones who are left cause the organization to pull more to the right, and chase out even more members.

  69. Kathy Applebaum says:

    Those of you who have taken a stand for equality are awesome, wrapped in a blanket of awesome, and covered in awesome sauce. Thank you.

  70. As a straight guy (albeit not any sort of scout) who despises bigotry, I am proud of these men.

  71. Prospero761 says:

    I quit the BSA as a Webloe Scout, because other scouts were encouraged to taunt and abuse me because I was perceived to be a “sissy.” Today, we’d call that “bullying.” Back in the early ’70′s, it was just “boys being boys.” I hope the actions of these Eagle Scouts makes a difference, though I doubt it will.

  72. jacksonccooper says:

    To add to those who have already made their protests: http://jacksonccooper.com/images/BSALetter.jpg 

  73. jimbuck says:

    Eagle Scout here … will be at my parents this weekend.  And will be looking for my badge.  Not sure if I will return it – but I applaud those who have.

  74. Lee Guenther says:

    One need only look to where the biggest $$$ are coming from to see what is guiding the policy…

  75. AsteriskCGY says:

    Well I probably should do this too. I technically got the award, but outside of a badge didn’t do much to show for it. 

    The troop I was with didn’t feel too heavily with religion or any of these upper level views. Then again, none of these really came up that big. My scoutmasters were all pretty cool folks, very stringent and intimidating. Got a lot of great lessons from them. 

    Been meaning to help out at the Walk for Hope as well…. oh wait. 

  76. Kilteddad says:

    As an atheist, and former scout, I’d have sent mine in years ago.  I left scouts as Life Scout just before my big community service project (in the mid 1980s).  Partially because I felt there was little left to learn, but mostly because the adult leadership in my troop started to age out and get replaced with some holy rollers.  It was clear that the tone had changed from using your wits in the outdoors to showing how holy you could be.  So, while I applaud every Former Eagle for this action, let’s not forget that there is nothing about being Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Cheerful, Thrifty,  Brave, Clean and (well, maybe that last one) that requires religion.  

  77. I too valued my experiences as a scout, and regret that even today I would not be allowed to participate as a now open atheist. I never earned the Eagle medal, but I have great respect for those who did–and now even more respect for those who have chosen to return it in light of BSA’s continued discrimination.

  78. David Aked says:

    Thank you for giving me so much faith guys.  So often I thought “I really don’t want to go to America”.  However, this has actually given me time to think “It’s AMERICANS that make the place so wonderful and this is why I would want to visit”.  You guys as a whole are amazing.  You have some douche’s of course.  Every country has them.  Some in positions of power.  Some not.  (Like every country)

    Thank you for getting rid of a bit of bigotry I had in my mind.  Americans are truly wonderful people and this is proof.

    I was an Australian Cub Scout.  I remember those days fondly.  But I still remember the shock and horror that went around when Scouts started letting GIRLS (OMG!) join.  I think that was the best thing they have ever done.  At the time I was worried.  But I was 9 yrs old and might have caught girl germs.  (Sly wink and smile)

    I didn’t progress too far in scouts, despite loving it.  I just had other life choices.  But I still assist my local scout group by running workshops to help them earn badges.  (I’m a blacksmith.  So often the parents themselves also want to take part.  It’s a great weekend).

    Keep being awesome guys, and I hope one day, you’ll be proud that you sent your badge in as you made a difference.  (Read that as intended.  Your act made a large organization change their ways for the better).

  79. kee nethery says:

    July 23 2012

    BSA National Executive Board

    1325 Walnut Hill Lane

    PO Box 152079

    Irving, Texas 75015-2079

    To Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive and the BSA National Executive Board,

    I’m an Eagle Scout, God and Country Award, Order of the Arrow. I was a Patrol Leader and then the Pack Leader. I attended the 1971 World Jamboree in Japan. Was a member of the high adventure Explorer Post in Houston that was run by Burton Parks. Every day I wear my Philmont belt with my World Jamboree belt buckle as a tribute to my father who encouraged and supported my Boy Scout activities.

    When others wonder why I’m doing something, my wife’s standard answer is “Boy Scout”. Thankfully, I was a Scout when scouting was viewed as an honorable organization. I know todays’ volunteers and kids are great but it saddens me when they feel the need to publicly apologize and distance themselves from the national organization stance on people who are openly honest about how they were born.

    I’m returning my; Eagle, God and Country, Philmont and World Jamboree neckerchief slides, as well as all the certifications of my achievements. I can’t change your decision but I can do the right thing and take a stand against a wrong. 

    Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. Shame on all of you for sullying the good reputation of the Boy Scouts by adding Bigot and Homophobe to the list of official Boy Scout attributes.

    Kee Nethery

  80. I just wanted to say thank you to all the Scouts who have joined forces on this, when I wrote that letter on Friday I didn’t know what to expect, only that I was sickened by what the BSA was upholding. You all have reminded me why I love Scouting so much, probably doesn’t mean much, but I just wanted to say thanks.

    Leo A P Giannini

  81. brillow says:

    I hate to be “that guy” but the BSA’s ban on gays is not a new thing.  The BSA has always been bigoted.  These people were members of this org for a very long time before they decided, suddenly, that they didn’t like it anymore.

    I guess though I’m glad, suddenly being non-bigoted is cool.  Eagle Scouts are mailing medals and people are not eating their chicken sandwiches.

    Before you get too proud of yourself though, just remember that gay kid you made fun of while it was still cool.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      A) There’s no need to be a dick about it.
      B) The reason that people are doing it now is that the Scoutholes just reaffirmed their bigotry last week. People who were hoping that the organization might make some progress in the face of DADT being repealed, widespread support for gay marriage, etc. realized that they could no longer hold out for the leadership to do the right thing. So they did it themselves.

    • Mark Dow says:

      A lot of us haven’t been proud of BSA leadership for decades. I remember that kid, and got to know him while backpacking. Sometimes I was that kid. Now I have kids. There’s no better time than now to break the chains.

      Eagle Scout ’76, resigned (a long time ago)
      Troop 810, Walnut Creek CA

  82. I’m so proud of all the men who have taken part in this – demonstrated here or otherwise, those who have done and those who will do – as well as any and all others making their stance and feelings known to the BSA. My brother was a boy scout when he was younger – don’t really remember how far he went, but he quit before he was through elementary school – and I was a girl scout until I went into 5th grade. (other priorities, conflict with my troop members, whatever)
    After reading through this, I ventured off into the vast open spaces of the internet and skimmed through some other writings on the topic, as well as articles with the primary message of, “Well, you know, girl scouts don’t share that policy. They’re not exactly fishing for GLBT participants, but they’ve openly addressed it and solidly state such individuals are welcome.” I wasn’t sure about that prior to searching, and I’m glad to have learned the feeling wasn’t mutual between the two groups. (as in, so relieved the girl scouts don’t share the bigoted view)
    Anyway, point is I ran across some comments with the tone of, “I don’t see what ‘rights’ you think the GLBT community are being denied here. They’re being denied membership in a volunteer group. Many/most volunteer groups and projects have age requirements and other requirements. Are they ageists?” And that irritated me. Yeah, I wasn’t in girl scouts long, and my brother wasn’t in boy scouts long. But even being involved for just a while, it’s a significant thing, y’know? It’s not just some volunteer group, or some group at all. It’s Scouts, and that means something – to a lot of people it means a lot. Even at its most basic level, Boy and Girl Scouts are a social and developmental bonding experience/group, and to a lot of people (as seen in some of the above letters and personal comments of “former” scouts [because there's parts - the good parts - of being a scout you don't shake]) it’s an important support system. And, again as has been stated, GLBT individuals are often more in need of a solid support system than others, because to this day they still feel rejected and judged and ostracized. Scouting is not as big a deal these days, true – there were times when if you weren’t in scouts you were kind of the odd one out – but it still means something, underneath the bigotry. Scouts, on a level,  is supposed to be all about goodness, kindness, generosity, being generally good people. But still, jerks and bullies who happen to be hetero get in and stay in while the nicest, sweetest, kindest kid who just happens to be homosexual is excluded from an experience I feel they have as much right as anyone to have.
    This fight – not the BSA one, but the big all-encompassing GLBT one – feels like it’s never going to be over. I’ve been passionate about GLBT equality for as long as I can remember pretty much knowing that homosexuals existed, and there’s always still someone denying them something on just the most trivial basis I can imagine. It seems like the most idiotic thing in the world to me that we can’t all just let it go and put an end to always having to exclude some group, as if there’s no point in anything if there’s not an uncontrollable disqualifier – race, gender, sexual orientation, whatever. (and yeah, I know, no big revelation to anyone or anything, but I had to vent that into the universe anyway)

  83. Christopher says:

    Sorry, this was meant to be a reply to “brillow” above:

    Not all of us made fun of “that gay kid”, regardless of whether it was cool to do so or not. But I’m curious: does projecting your own guilt onto others make you feel any better?

  84. wouldn’t discriminating against gays imply you have crooked values, and not be morally straight?  seriously BSA grow up and move on.  Change is all around us, I am an Eagle Scout, 20 years old now, and I can’t believe you guys are that close minded.

  85. Jonathan Hunt says:

    The link to the Scouts for Equality has an extra “http” in it and doesn’t work.

  86. Jonathan Hunt says:

    As a current Scout Leader and former Boy Scout, thank you for standing up for what is right. I do not want to remove my son from Cub Scouts as he loves it, but am seriously considering it if the National Council does not change their position on this matter to truly uphold the scout law and spirit.

    • Karl says:

       My sons are both older now, but I have a nephew in a similar position as your son. Your son may be too young still to fully understand the situation, but as he gets older you’ll probably want to sit down with him and give him “the talk”. About how not everyone in the world is nice to each other, how some people pick on others because they’re “different”, how some groups use exclusion of others to make themselves feel better, etc. Then let him make his own decision. He can get an awful lot of good from Scouting, but he needs to be aware of the bad as well.

  87. chadmulligan says:

    I have been thinking about turning in my Eagle Scout rank for some time but never got around to it.  Sounds like now is a good time.

    Before I actually do the deed, I have decided to join the National Eagle Scout Association. With any luck, I will be kicked out for my “radical views” before I leave the BSA entirely.

  88. emsv says:

    The BSA’s mission is to prepare young men and women to make ethical decisions over their lifetimes.  They do this through a number of methods including adult interaction, which means, essentially, by giving them role models in their scoutmasters/advisers/etc.  The BSA, as a values-based organization, wants to promote a certain set of values…and it looks like the modernistic culture that we are in, for a good part of it, lies outside of that set.  Sure, they’re sticking to their guns, and so are you — what’s the difference (besides what those points are that each of you are sticking to)?  Not everyone has to be a Scouter, it’s not a requirement, and there are enough organizations out there (ya’ll mentioned the Girl Scouts and others) that accept those that you would like to have accepted into their membership.  There is no compulsion to join, merely a requirement that you agree with their mission and methods.

  89. Lee Guenther says:

    A while back, a fellow leader suggested that national policy is determined by  whomever is the largest financial contributor (duh, this is a non-profit) and hinted about a certain religious org that has embraced Boy Scouts for their male youth org…  Just sayin….

  90. Here’s a link to the video I made concerning this MAJOR issue:  
    “Gay Scouts of America” http://youtu.be/nm9_ExLFWKw

  91. MTizz says:

    Reading about the medal returns and letters to the BSA is heartening. As someone with several gay family members, equality is something I stand up for in every way I can. I was never a member of Scouts or Eagles myself, but I found this dispute http://www.equibbly.com/disputes/boyscouts-reject-homosexuals-in-its-ranks on equibbly.com where you can vote for or against the BSA ban, so I took my stand there and voted. I hope more people will continue to take a stand against this ban. Inequality is never OK. 

  92. I first was turned on to this issue by this image, posted by an Eagle Scout friend to FB:

    http://i.imgur.com/XJNny.jpg

  93. I was a Girl Scout. Thankfully they’ve not put themselves into this craziness. BUT, my troop was the first to do a co-campout with one of the Boy Scout troops at Camp Don Herrington. I was one of the girl patrol leaders and we worked together with the guys to do projects. It was a very wonderful thing and we were “honorary Boy Scouts” as much as the guys got the “honorary Girl Scouts” badge.

    I wish I could send mine to the Boy Scouts. I no longer have it, lost in many moves. I am SO disappointed in what the Boy Scouts are doing. I have grandsons and I’m glad they aren’t participating in the group because I would hate to have to ask their parents to pull them out because of this, but I would and I would tell the boys why. They know gays, we have friends and relatives who are precious to us and we would be standing up for them. One of them just got engaged, we are so happy for him and his partner.

    I do hope the Boy Scouts put this behind them, in the right way, and get with the rest of the world in dealing with this issue.

  94. dan says:

    Good for all of you. I’m straight and am sickened by the bigotry that still exists. The BSA can spin this any way they want but years from now they will look just as ridiculous as racists form the south in the 60′s.

  95. pjceaglescout says:

    I read a lot of comments about freedom of the BSA etc…   They may have that right legally, but the leadership of the BSA needs to listen to all their members and not just the narrow minded members.  That is why I feel it is more important for the active members, former members, Eagle Scouts, etc to let them know that we do not agree with their current decision.

    BSA Leadership does not speak for all Scouts, especially not this Eagle Scout.

  96. quieterelephant says:

    As a long time Scout (boy and man [well 48 year old boy]) in both the UK and Canada, I applaud you all. Despite its recent issues, the US Scouting organisation did well by you all. 
    It taught you right from wrong. It taught you to stand up for what’s right, no matter what the personal cost. And now it will suffer from its success. It will feel the power of such motivated people. BP would be proud.

    BTW… Scouts has been co-ed in both the UK and Canada for decades. Just sayin’…

    http://quieterelephant.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/eagle-scouts-stand-up-to-the-boy-scouts-of-america-updated-boing-boing/ 

  97. I am so proud of all of these wonderful men. To see them sacrifice something they worked so hard to earn, and that means so much to them, to help out their fellow citizens…it’s the epitome of what scouting should be. 

  98. Helen R says:

    I hope you don’t mind me commenting but I found this link on an LGBT website, and have found the posts very interesting.

    Here in Ireland the Scouting Ireland organisation is co-ed, and my daughter was a member of the 112 Troup from the age of 12 – 15. She really threw herself into the Scouts and was camping in tents at least 8 times a year, in all weathers. She was promoted to a deputy patrol leader within a year, then full patrol leader, took leadership courses and won both Junior and Senior Scout of the year. She also led her novice patrol to third place in the Montpelier Trophy, a major annual challenge. Her time in the scouts really gave her an opportunity to experience responsibility and will live with her through her life.   

    I am therefore delighted to read on the Scouting Ireland Website, in response to the BSA decision:    

    18th July 2012  Re:  LGBT in Scouting Ireland  Scouting Ireland is Open to youth and Adult members regardless of Race, Creed, Gender, Sexual Orientation or Ability.     This is enshrined in the Constitution of Scouting Ireland. The Section of our Constitution relating to this is quoted below.     

    Scouting Ireland is a voluntary, uniformed, non‐formal educational movement for  young people. It is independent, non‐political, open to all without distinction of  origin, race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or ability     

    Scouting Ireland recently approved the Formation of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender fellowship patrol as a supporting mechanism to our membership. We are currently working on support materials on coming out and sexual ID under our whole health programme.     

    The statement made by BSA would not be compatible with the constitution or the ethos of Scouting Ireland     

    Scouting Ireland is the fastest growing youth organisation in Ireland. It has evolved over time and has outlived its traditional image, to become a modernorganisation creating tomorrow’s citizens. Scouting Ireland has in excess of 480 Scout Groups based on the island of Ireland and is opening on average 20 new Scout Groups per annum. Scouting Ireland’s membership is today standing at more than 43,000 members which includes 9000 adult volunteers operating at every level on a weekly basis.

  99. emily2012 says:

    To the brave men who have return their metals and wrote letters renouncing what the BSA has done, THANK YOU. And thank you to 
    Maggie Koerth-Baker for posting and inspiring others!

  100. kristin rainey says:

    I am so proud of the strong men who are returning their Eagle Scout medals.  As a mother, I had decided years ago that my son would not participate in the Boy Scouts, based on their stance towards homosexuality, and now that they are *re-stating* their stance, I am appalled.   This is not some leftover law on the books that slipped through the cracks…this is just horrible.  Yes, it’s legal, they are a private organization, but they should be ashamed of themselves.

    Kudos to all of you for making this difficult decision!

  101. I wish I could join in, but I never got beyond Second Class, as we had a really dysfunctional troop when I was of that age.  Still, BSA’s position has not made me proud of my former association.

  102. Ger Ger says:

    This news is a bad news for scout associations all over the world.

    In Belgium, the five scout and guide associations reacted to this news, saying every gay or lesbian is welcome in their associations.Their publications about the BSA decision to ban gays and lesbians :

    http://www.sgp.be/modules/news/article.php?storyid=483http://www.lesscouts.be/les-nouvelles/en-detail/article/1496/http://www.scoutsengidsenvlaanderen.be/nieuws/2012/07/19/holebis-vanzelfsprekend-welkom-bij-scouts-en-gidsen-vlaanderen
    http://www.fos.be/nl/nieuws/p/detail/fos-open-scouting-zonder-discriminatie
    http://guides.be/Non-a-la-discrimination-chez-Les

  103. Dave Wieneke says:

    Hi friends and fellow Eagle Scouters -
    If you want to change Scouting’s position on gay membership — the first step is to call your Congressional representative. Really – its easy, anyone can do it.

    The Boy Scouts of America are honored and privileged to be a congressionally chartered organization. The President of the USA is their honorary President.

    Removing this charter would be a HUGE signal to the Scouts — which would not impede the delivery of their fine program to kids — while being a legitimate expression of the public disagreement with their policy.

    I don’t believe that being gay is a choice – but I believe discriminating against others based on that is. While that choice is protected by the Freedom of Association — the Congressional charter your representative has a vote on is not.

    Threaten this now – and Scouting’s executive board will take note.

    Sexuality is not a part of the Scouting movement, but “God, Girls and Gays” have become a sticking point that depositions what would otherwise be a stronger and more beneficial message.

    Taking steps to end Scouting’s federal charter – is a wake up call anyone can help make, whether you have a badge to return or not.

    I’ve written more on this here
    https://plus.google.com/104185081477402576552/posts/Lcy119Xyg58

    Dave Wieneke
    Eagle Scout / Senior Patrol Leader Troop 380 Moline
    Former Program and Camping Director – Boston Minuteman Council

  104. Sean Leavitt says:

    Another on you can add to the growing list. Mine.

    http://i.imgur.com/YUFfY.jpg

  105. CSBD says:

    So… should we also ban Homosexuals from teaching and from schools and every other occupation where they may come into contact with children?
    I hate to break it to you but there are far more hetro-molesters than there are homo-molesters (due to population statistics).

  106. I am extremely sorry that this happened to you. But gay people are not the same thing as pedophiles. Keeping gay teenagers from participating in scouting, keeping gay parents from fully supporting their children as troop leaders, that does absolutely nothing to prevent molestation. It just hurts people. 

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