“It is with regret that I return my Eagle Scout badge.”

The Eagle Scout Award

Photo by Daniel M. Reck

John S. Nettleton, a fellow Eagle Scout, wanted me to share his letter. After I sent my Eagle award back and I was interviewed on Talk of the Nation, I’ve heard from many Eagle Scouts who have done the same thing.

I’m proud to be a former Eagle Scout with John and so many others who are standing for what is right.

Wayne Brock, Chief Scout Executive
The National Boy Scouts of America
1325 W. Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, Texas 75015-2079

Dear Mr. Brock:

My congratulations on your appointment as BSA Chief Executive of the BSA; I trust your tenure will be productive and fulfilling. It is with regret that I return my Eagle Scout badge. I don’t regret earning that rank, but remain saddened that the organization you now lead continues on a poor path, one lacking in compassion. The BSA is seemingly unable to recognize that active discrimination against gays prevents participation by many who could benefit from the positive experiences Scouting can offer. BSA’s similar and longstanding inability to address patterns of abuse also continues to inflict pain and suffering.

I began in Scouting in Cub Scout Pack 124 (Ada, OH) and Boy Scout Troop 13 (Nashville, TN), reaching Eagle Scout rank at age 13, with 42 merit badges: I believe that at the time (1962) I was the youngest Eagle Scout in the Middle Tennessee Council. I also served as Scout camp counselor in Ohio (Camp Bucoco), Colorado (Ben Delatour Scout Ranch) and Wyoming (Chimney Park Camp). I fully understand the important role that Scouting can play in the growth and maturation of boys into young men and it is this awareness compelling me to raise these issues in what I trust is a helpful manner.

Two of the Buddhist grave precepts (similar to the Ten Commandments) pertain to the BSA dilemma and path: the first, “realize self and other as one, do not elevate the self and put down others” goes to the heart of discrimination against gays. Another, “honor the body, do not misuse sexuality”, addresses the issue of abuse and the misuse of power or authority in matters of sexual. My family lives in a diverse, peri-urban community, where my neighbors range from Republican to same-sex couples with young children. Each family should have an opportunity to gain from a Scouting experience. The responsibility to redirect the energies and mission of the BSA to serve such new families as well as the traditional ‘nuclear’ households typical of my youth- rests on your shoulders and those of your leadership team. Please keep my badge safe and return it when those changes in practice are made visible.

Sincerely yours,

John S. Nettleton

Andrew says:

I hope the Scouts never change. Kudos to a private organization for taking a stand on what they feel is right.

Kelsey says:

Kudos to private individuals taking a stand for what they feel is right.

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Let your voice be heard!