BSA National Executive Board
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
PO Box 152079
Irving, Texas 75015-2079
Dear Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive, and the BSA National Executive Board:
It is with great regret that we write to you—father and son—to return the Eagle Scout medals we are no longer proud of wearing. Stewart Lumb earned his Eagle Award in 1975 and is currently a District Commissioner. David Lumb, member of Troop 658 in Los Alamitos, California, earned his Eagle Award in 2006. Our involvement in Boy Scouts has provided us with the opportunity to build a more compassionate world, but the Boy Scouts of America has not risen to the call it expects of its boys and has excluded a significant slice of Americans with its policy toward homosexual members. You have failed your mission to be of service to all boys across the nation.
I, David, grew up under the scouting tutelage of my father, first a Cubmaster of Pack 116 in Seal Beach and then an Assistant Scoutmaster in Troop 658. At every turn, he lead me to adopt the tenets of scouting: service, understanding, leadership, kindness. When asked, I lead my troop as Senior Patrol Leader at 14 despite reservations that I would not be able to follow the example of my troop’s older scouts, who had graduated. Over the years, I grew not just to tolerate but to enjoy the diversity of my troop—not just the embrace of ethnic and religious diversity written into the Boy Scout handbook, but the embrace of smaller scouts, the ones from damaged homes, the scouts teased by other kids for effeminate behavior: these scouts deserved the friendship and support that scouting provided. The policy you just reaffirmed discriminates against some of the very scouts in my adopted family and I cannot abide by the BSA’s hypocritical policy to welcome some, but not all, boys in need of character-building experiences. Shame on you for reaffirming a policy to exclude the boys who may need this life-changing opportunity most.
I, Stewart, am the man I am because of the opportunities provided to me by Scouting. The values that were instilled in me when I earned my Eagle award, the values I hope I instilled in my son as he earned his Eagle award – honor, courage, service to God, family, and community – those values are just as important for boys that are gay as boys that are straight. I’m convinced the Boy Scout program is the best program for developing our youth. We need to be courageous enough to admit our mistake and recognize the opportunity we have to provide this program for all youth, and recognize that there is an untapped resource of adult leadership that we have prevented from serving.
Lest you hedge your policy against boys in ambiguity: there is no more casually alienating policy for homosexual boys than preventing homosexual adult pack and troop members from leadership positions. To distrust their adult counterparts is to distrust the scouts themselves: a glass ceiling of involvement which states that sexual identity, not meritocracy and good deeds, allow one to lead. These are good people you have turned away from a calling to lead, people who revere what Scouting can do for all boys, and you have met their loyalty with exclusion. We were taught and tested and raised by leaders of all stripes: their sexuality had nothing to do with their quality.
A Scout is taught to be good, to do the right thing, and above all, to be brave. It is easy to side with the BSA’s traditional approach—to trust that the organization is, in the aggregate, helping far more boys than it harms. It is no longer the right thing to go along with a national decision that we do not agree with, so we must be brave for the scouts and leaders who have been run out or have not joined scouting because it is no longer a welcoming organization. Our stance on welcoming and involving homosexual scouts and leaders has never been otherwise, but we respected the rules of a private organization in the hope that the BSA would change from within. You have proved that you do not wish to be brave and lead Scouting into a future of open opportunity.
We are two generations of Eagle Scouts who are no longer proud of the badges on our uniforms. Until the BSA chooses to become the true paragons of acceptance and tutelage it purports to be, these medals have no place in our lives. It saddens us greatly that we surrender these medals of responsibility, leadership, and achievement. But it will always, always grieve us more to know that the Boy Scouts are keeping boys and leaders outside a nationwide community that would only benefit from their earnest participation. The Boy Scouts of America deserves every youth and leader who would make it a richer community; it does not deserve leadership that shuts the door on youths in need.
David and Stewart Lumb