More Eagle Scouts are joining the ranks of those against the group's ban on gay scouts and leaders. Eagle Scouts of all ages are relinquishing their membership in the organization following the Boy Scouts’ announcement on July 17 that it would maintain the ban on gay members. The Scouts' national spokesman, Deron Smith, called it "absolutely the best policy".
56-year old Scoutmaster Bill deVos told NBC News that he no longer wanted his badges and medals as long as the Scouts stuck to their exclusion policy.
“It is not an easy thing to give up your Eagle. It sounds silly, but it’s very emotional, you know, if you’ve been in Scouts as long as most of us guys have … it just means a lot,” DeVos told NBC News.
“But it’s more important for it (the badge) to do something good for others … I can look at it and be sentimental about it, but it’s what it does for others that means more.”
Scout Kyle Evans sent a letter to Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzucca relinquishing his membership in the organization in protest of their policy.
Evans called it "heartbreaking" that the Scouts would exclude a group of young people who he says may benefit from the organization the most.
Highlighting the higher suicide rate of gay teenagers, Evans writes that the "turmoil and abuse gay kids face growing up stubbornly persists in our society because it implicitly sanctioned by policies such as yours, which buttress the fallacy that homosexuals aren't as good as their straight peers."
Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, told NBC that 50,000 Scouts earn the Eagle rank every year, and that only a “few” had given up their medals and badges since July 17.
A tumblr blog called 'Eagle Scouts Returning Our Badges' has so far seen 70 Scouts post photos of their letters relinquishing membership.
The blog's founder, Burke Stansbury, told NBC that although it was painful to send back the medal, continuing to be a part of the organization was worse.
“The Scouts have taken their stand," he said. "They’re pretty clear that they are going to stick with this policy and I think we need to cut our ties and not associate with an organization that believes in discrimination and practices it."