August 3, 2012
Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, Texas 75015-2079
To: Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive, and the BSA National Executive Board
It is with great regret that I am compelled to return to you my Eagle Scout badge and renounce any and all ties with your organization. My actions are in response to your reaffirmation of your policy to ban openly gay members.
I recognize that the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization and is therefore entitled to manage said organization in whichever fashion it sees fit within the laws and regulations of the United States of America. It is my opinion, however, that the Boy Scouts of my childhood has lost its values and lost its way.
My family has maintained ties with the BSA for generations. My uncle was an Eagle Scout and my grandfather was a Scout Master. Our roots are deep; such that this is a measure I do not take lightly. The teachings that I grew up with, however, are no longer reflected within the policies of your organization. The codes and creeds that I recited again and again as a boy included words such as “honor” and “respect”. Yet now, the BSA endorses discrimination and holds it as if it were a value.
I am not gay. I have family and friends, however, that are openly gay and have found peace and happiness as such. These are individuals worthy of respect and love, and I cannot honor them by endorsing your organization. I cannot allow my son to participate in your organization and learn to view others as less than himself. I will not tolerate discrimination, and this unfortunately has come to include your organization, which I have long held dear.
It is easy for those of us who are not directly affected by the actions of others to stand by. It is also wrong. The leaders in the Boy Scouts of my youth taught me this.
In the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller in response to the inactivity of German intellectuals during the rise of the Nazis:
First they came for the communists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.
Joshua T. White, MD, FAAEM
Troop 66, Decorah, IA
Co-Founder, Community Health Initiative – Haiti
Randolph, VT 05060