December 17, 2012
Mr. Wayne Brock, Chief Scout Executive
The Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
Irving, TX 75015
Dear Mr. Brock and the BSA National Executive Board ~
My name is Chris Richards, and I’m an Eagle Scout and Order of the Arrow member. I earned those awards at the end of a 7-year association with one of the most prestigious organizations in Wisconsin scouting history, Troop 861 in Sheboygan, WI.
It is with great sadness that I write to you today to return my Eagle Award to you and to renounce my 31-year association with the Boy Scouts of America.
I’ll be honest and say I haven’t thought about the Boy Scouts in a while. I guess that’s because the important things I learned in my years of development in your programs aren’t freestanding things; they are woven into my daily life and my moral fabric. And that’s exactly why this decision is so simple to make. In particular, the Boy Scouts helped me refine my perspective of right and wrong — and the wrongness of your policies towards openly homosexual people in your organization is crystal clear to me.
I’ve read dozens of collected letters from Eagle Award recipients who’ve returned their badges before me. I write as a profession, and reading these gentlemen’s letters made me want to send my award along without any note at all. That should tell you a lot about these people. These are clearly thought-out, passionate, reasoned letters full of empathy and grace. These are not folks with nothing better to do than be contrary.
As I join them, let us be clear in our message to you. The Boy Scouts of America are making a stand on what will no doubt be the wrong side of history on this issue. Until you reverse your policy of discrimination towards openly homosexual youth, men and women, I no longer want to be associated with the organization in any way. I have removed references to the BSA/Eagle on my résumé, LinkedIn, biographies and in other places I’ve proudly hung the honor for more than 20 years.
Someday I hope to have a son of my own. Maybe I’ll show him some of the things I learned in my years in the Boy Scouts. Perhaps we’ll build a fort in the woods behind the house. Or bake Brown Betty in a Dutch oven underground. What I am certain of is that I’ll teach him something that’s more important than all those things: That you treat everybody the same. Everybody.
Former Eagle Scout