More Eagle Scouts Are Resigning Because of the Organization’s Homophobia July 30, 2012

More Eagle Scouts Are Resigning Because of the Organization’s Homophobia

It’s not just Eagle Scouts who support the LGBT community who are sending back their badges; atheist scouts are resigning, too:

[Dr. William] Van Druten recalled being “proud” when he earned his badge. “Nobody bothered us with what superstition we had or did not have, whether we were straight, gay, black, white, yellow or grey. We learned lashing, tenting, knotting, truth telling. We hiked the Califonria coastal mountains, learned the trees, shrubs and birds. We backpacked the High Sierra. Yet now I discover that my youth’s delight is captured by bigots. So I am now ashamed of my badges and of my eagle award, too.”

Van Druten’s daughter, a high school teacher, wrote BSA that she will no longer be writing “recommendations for young men who are pursuing an Eagle Scout Badge. I will be telling them that there is nothing wrong with being gay, there is nothing wrong with being an atheist, and there is nothing wrong with being black. Yes, I equate them all. It is a hateful policy, and I refuse to help you perpetuate it.”

There’s also a new Tumblr: Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges.

I’m doubtful any of this will dent the mindsets of the BSA leaders, but at the very least, they’re letting other people know why they shouldn’t get involved with such an organization.


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  • As a fellow Eagle Scout and atheist, I congratulate those Eagles that are taking that step and sending in their badges in protest.  It’s hard.  I sent mine back in in 2008 and it was a 3-day decision making process that was very emotional.  You spend so much time as a youth working towards that Eagle; and if you’ve come at it from the right direction, in the right way, it takes on a very personal meaning for you because of the lessons and values taken away.

    I don’t think it’s going to make a dent in the BSA’s policy, even as touching and heartfelt the sentiment of the action.  Scouting for All, started by Steven Cozza back in the 90’s, was encouraging Eagles to do the same and had a fairly hefty petition in hand as well.  However, with the recent statement from the BSA recently, upholding their membership policies, and court decisions in their favor, I think these Eagles and others should start taking a different tact.

    As Commissioner of the BPSA, I want to extend an invitation to all these men who are taking a stand to help out our alternative organization that’s striving to provide a non-discriminatory, co-ed and traditional style scouting program here in the US.  We might not be able to make the BSA change; but that doesn’t mean we can’t plant the foundations of the Scouting we want to offer in another organization.

    It just takes a little effort, time and commitment to see it through.

  • Ray Mansell

    Shame it’s such a poorly-worded poll question…

  • Welcome to the BDN

  • Ibis3

     I was just about to comment that all of these Eagle Scouts returning their badges may not change the BSA, but it opens up opportunities for alternative scouting-type organisations to recruit members, organisers and financial supporters. Good to see it already happening.

    (p.s. OT that should be “taking a different tack” as in changing direction while sailing a boat)

  • This could spell the end of BSA as we know it. It’s long held this monolithic position as THE organization to send your boys to, but unless the directors can make an immediate & sincere about-face on their bigoted positions, BSA can expect to become a fringe thing soon. There will still be fundie Xtians who will be excited to indoctrinate their boys with their favored forms of bigotry, but that demographic isn’t nearly as big as it is loud, and I don’t think it can support BSA to the extent it has been accustomed to. It’s exciting to see principled people bailing out from an organization that has shown itself to be unsupportable by decent people. Now if only we can see a mass exodus from the Catholic Church soon…
    It would be good to see some new, non-bigoted organizations move in to pick up the slack too.

  • Isilzha

    Instead of sending them back to BSA someone needs to start a non-profit to collect, count and display them!  I hate that BSA can just bury these badges.

  • ImRike

     Agree! How can you vote on that? Of course they should be allowed to ban gay scouts and leaders if they wish, but that does not mean that they should DO it!

  • Kahomono

    Well, it won’t be a quick transition for BSA to join the current century: 

    http://dailyross.com/2010/02/the-bsas-mormon-problem/  

  • Ogrekhirst

    As a Christian I am disgusted by the BSA’s position and hope protests like this dent their hateful attitude. Here in the UK the boy scout movement has just gone on a specifically gay friendly recruitment drive to highlight that there is not any bar to gays in the UK scout movement (not saying we don’t have a few hurdles either but the scouts should not be one of them). 
    http://www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/facts/pdfs/fs185081.pdf

  • Jenny

    It must be a very painful thing to do, after all that childhood joy and pride, and then as an adult being devastated by what the cost of it was. I salute them! We need medals of courage and integrity to send to these folks.

  • I never made it that far. But I don’t think even if I had that I would have liked the road. 2 years in the local Boy Scouts and it was just fundraiser this, fundraiser that. We had one camping trip out of all that. I left about 3 weeks after acknowledging my Atheism, because people started treating me coldly. There was never anything positive there anymore, and word of my Atheism went through the kids and back to the school. Needless to say my friend count dropped to 0. My dad’s advice was just do what you want to do and not what they want you to do, so I ended up leaving. I can’t imagine leaving, though, after the work involved getting to the rank of Eagle Scout, though. 

  • It really is good to see that at least some Eagle Scouts have actually internalized moral principles.

  • rlrose328

    Reading some of the letters on the Tumbler page has left me in tears for so many dreams and memories ruined by the bigotry of the BSA.  One in particular made an excellent point: 

    “I should have written this letter in 2000 when the organization’s right to limit its membership was upheld by the Supreme Court, not because I think it shouldn’t have that right, but because I think it shouldn’t have sought it.”

    The organization can fall back on its right to discriminate… but it never should be a question of whether they have that right or not.

  • rlrose328

    I would LOVE to do that!!  Wow, what a great idea!!

  • Mike

    There are Eagle Scouts who won’t just role over and let the bigots currently running the BSA win.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/eagle-scout-pushes-against-scouts-ban-on-gays-one-member-council-at-a-time/2012/07/27/gJQAQd9EEX_blog.html?hpid=z11  

    While I don’t completely agree with this young man’s statements about agnostics and atheists (on his website, I’ve already written him about that), he is supportive of full inclusion for those groups as well.  He is brave enough to go to a pretty serious scout meeting and just talk to people about the issue.  What could be more powerful than someone who is from a “different” family showing up and just talking with scouts and scout leaders?And let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water.  This isn’t Chick-Fil-A.  National Council is clearly wrong on this issue, but many local councils and troops have been ignoring National Council.  As to my own youth, nobody asked me if I was gay, atheists, or anything else when I earned my Eagle Scout award.  Nobody asked when I was selected by my peers for the Order of the Arrow.  Is sending back my badges or turning my back the best thing I can do to help?  I don’t think so.  The best thing I can do is to keep adding my voice as an Eagle and as a Brother to those already clamoring for change.  After all, simply abandoning the organization is to abandon those youth still in the closet about the sexuality or religious beliefs.  I can’t do that to my brothers.