Eagle Scouts Return Medals Over Boy Scouts Anti-Gay Policy

Dan Evon - Author
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Jun. 15 2013, Updated 9:38 p.m. ET

Most Eagle Scouts spent the majority of their youth earning badges and medals, pledging loyalty, and learning about honor in the Boy Scouts. And now, many are turning their back on the organization.

The Boy Scouts, who have had an anti-gay policy for over 100 years, reaffirmed its policy recently saying that it would continue it’s ban on gay members. The decision has sparked a backlash from the LGBT community and several eagle scouts have decided that they no longer want to be a part of the organization.

The movement may have started on the website Boing Boing after writer Maggie Koerth-Baker posted a letter that her husband, a former eagle scout, sent to the organization.

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“Today I am returning my Eagle Scout medal because I do not want to be associated with the bigotry for which it now stands. I hope that one day BSA stands up for all boys. It saddens me that until that day comes any sons of mine will not participate in the Boy Scouts.”

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Maggie Koerth-Baker has been updating her husband’s story at Boing Boing. Since posting Baker’s letter several other scouts have sent similar resignations to the Boy Scouts. Andrew Reinhard, Leo A. P. Giannini, Curtis Markham, Robert Paxton, and several other former Eagle Scouts have returned their medals.

All of the letters are similar in a few ways. They all talk about how much fun they had in the scouts. They all talk about how much work they did to earn their Eagle Scout badges. And they all talk about the morals and values they learned while being in the Boy Scouts. But in the end, they all conclude that they are now ashamed to part of the organization.

Martin Cismar, a former scout from Texas, writes:

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“I’m not gay. However, I can no longer in good conscience hold this badge as long as the BSA continues its policy of bigotry… I don’t want to be an eagle scout if a young man who is gay can’t be one, too. Gentlemen, please do the right thing.”

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A member of Troop 237 in Lake Zurich, IL, who earned his bade in 1997, writes:

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“This is not the stand for the BSA to take. You should be leaders in character building, and tolerance for young men. What you are doing is creating a stigma among young men that gay people are different, and not to be associated with. That it is something we should be afraid of. And you are telling this to boys at their most impressionable time… You are diminishing the value of the Eagle scout badge with your ignorant decisions, and as of now I would never let my son join such a bigoted organization.”

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Reinhard writes:

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“From an organization that taught me how to be a man and how to be helpful to others, what I held great pride in now carries shame. I am not alone in feeling this way. I would greatly urge the BSA to “do a good turn” and immediately reverse this decision. If the US Armed Forces can get beyond “don’t ask, don’t tell”, certainly the Scouts can do the same and attempt to maintain some semblance of honor.”

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What do you think of the Boy Scout’s anti-gay policy? Are you an Eagle Scout? Are you returning your badge?

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