Eagle Scouts across the US are returning their merit badges in protest of the organization's ban of gay scouts and leaders.
Chris Baker, an engineer in Minneapolis, told the New York Daily News that he decided to turn in his badge on Friday after spotting a Facebook post from a fellow scout. "I said, 'Let's do this. Let's drown them with returned Eagle Scout medals to show them they are wrong,'" Baker said.
In a letter to Bob Mazzuca, the organization's Chief Scout Executive, Baker wrote, "(As a Boy Scout) I was taught that it is wrong to exclude people, whether based on race, physical ability or sexual orientation."
Time Magazine noted that in June, the Boy Scouts claimed to be reconsidering its anti-gay membership policy after one Scout presented officials with a Change.org petition with more than 300,000 signatures in favor of changing the policy. In the end they decided to uphold the ban.
Terry Perlin wrote a letter to the editor at The New York Times regarding the decision. In part the letter read, "My adolescent experience as a Boy Scout was an indispensable and joyous journey, and I shall always treasure it. Camping every summer taught me skills — including interpersonal understanding of diverse and often feisty individuals — that were foundational. Therefore, it is painful yet necessary for me to renounce my Eagle Scout award and my membership in the Scouts and its affiliated Order of the Arrow. I can no longer be an “alumnus” of a group that has reaffirmed its bigotry."
Several more former Eagle Scouts have posted their letters to the organization online.
The Boy Scouts have not commented on the number of scouts who have returned badges or if this will affect its decision.