An Oak Park man says he's proud of the Eagle Scout badge he earned, but not of the organization's reaffirmed stance banning openly gay boys and men from membership.
Longtime Eagle Scout Rob Breymaier says he mailed his medal back to the 102-year-old organization and plans to pull his 8-year-old son from Boy Scouts in response to the group's anti-gay policy, the Associated Press reports. He said he'd like to start a local group in his suburban Chicago community that represents Scout values, but is more inclusive.
"I could always explain away that it was an old policy and that sooner or later, we'll be able to force a vote on the issue," Breymaier told the Chicago Tribune. "But when this vote happened and they reaffirmed the policy, it was just too much. It was infuriating, embarrassing and upsetting."
The Boy Scouts report that at least five of the group's highest-ranking members, Eagle Scouts, have returned their medals in protest, the Advocate reports, although a Tumblr page chronicling the demonstrations suggests that many more have walked away from the organization since they reiterated their contentious policy.
The Scouts' chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, has argued that most Scout families support the policy, which applies to both adult leaders and Scouts.
"The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Mazzuca said. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."
But Breymaier and other Scouts that hold the group's highest rank are speaking out in protest. Fellow Eagle Scout Martin Cizmar returned his medal earlier this month, decrying the organization's decision:
"A national policy on sexuality forces good, principled people from scouting," Cizmar, who is straight, wrote in a letter to Boy Scouts of America. He later added, "I don't want to be an Eagle Scout if a young man who is gay can't be one, too."