To Wayne Brock, Chief Scout Executive, and the BSA National Executive Board:
I stand with my fellow Eagles in returning this medal, with the aim of demonstratively putting a face to the growing number of Americans within your ranks demanding an end to the BSA’s discriminatory approach to its membership. It’s been almost 20 years since I stood with three others in my troop in recognition of our highest achievement as Scouts; though I have been planning to send back my Eagle medal for months now, it was only recently that I was able to visit my boyhood home to recover it and rediscover the wealth of strong memories that I hold of my Scouting years, and of my Eagle project in particular.
The box in which I was storing the medal is full of the documentation, photographs, and correspondence surrounding the project, and the subsequent congratulatory notes that I received from around the country. This was hardly a solitary endeavor: my father, a former Scout during his formative years in Hong Kong (where the organizations of both his era, the Scout Association, and of the current one, the Scout Association of Hong Kong, admit and advocate for members of all creeds) was a leader from my first days as a Bobcat who accompanied us on many a camping trip or military visit; my mother, in addition to expertly sewing on the badges for my entire Scouting career, did all of the initial legwork to set up meetings for me with a local government liaison to plan the project; and my sister was there pulling weeds and re-staining tables along with many of my other friends from outside Scouting at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park on our project days. I’m still immensely proud of the turnout and final result— initially the beach trail overgrowth seemed insurmountable, and the number of faded tables on site was daunting, but we made short work of both over the weekends. It would be grossly gauche for me to claim even half of the credit for this service, and it stands for how inclusive Scouting is in my experience.
Frankly, it’s embarrassingly appalling that it’s been over 10 years since the World Organisation of the Scout Movement resolved to “not consider homosexuality a reason for any kind of discrimination within or outside Scouting”, and appealed to you as fellow human beings to reconsider your disturbingly intransigent view on the matter. As citizens of a global society, you are denying a rich set of challenging experiences and nurturing fellowships not just from those you are excluding from your resources, but also to current Scouts in America who don’t have the opportunity to learn and grow alongside their full complement of friends and family.
It is not as easy as I initially thought it would be to give up this medal— as I stated earlier, I see it as an achievement shared with so many others in my life, yet I could not consider myself a good Scout if I forsook this chance to send you a clear and considered message. Perhaps it’s meant to be, particularly by your standards, as the BSA continues to exclude atheists and agnostics, even those with a deep sense of spirituality and commitment. Indeed, I now classify myself as an atheist— I will always value my Catholic upbringing as part of my cultural makeup, and am continually enriched by its narrative themes, as well as by those found in other religions and cultures, and have no doubt that someone like me could serve as a valued and dedicated part of the Scouting community. I hope to one day be fortunate enough to have children that I can bring into that community as openly as I could most anywhere else in the world, and inspire them as much as my father, mother, and sister inspired me on my journey towards becoming an Eagle.
Until then, I thank you, both for my irreplaceable memories in uniform, and for your consideration in this weighty discussion. I remain
Yours in Scouting,