Eagle Scouts give back their badges

Aug. 27, 2012 at 6:28 PM

BOSTON, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Some Eagle Scouts say they are returning their hard-earned badges in protest of the Boy Scouts of America's policy banning openly gay members.

Ned Coltman, 21, who The Boston Globe said is one of dozens of Eagle Scouts to rescind their affiliation with the organization, sent in his badges Friday.

"This is absolute bigotry and ignorance," said Coltman, who became an Eagle Scout, the highest honor in Boy Scouts, in 2009. "They have to know there are Eagles out there who are angry at this."

Coltman said in a letter to the organization experiencing its "blind hatred is one of the most terrible feelings I have ever had."

He predicted, "The leaders that you have created will never let this stand."

Official Boy Scout policy states while the organization "does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction" to the group's mission.

In a statement, the organization confirmed some Eagle Scouts have returned their awards over the policy, but added the number of scouts actively protesting is relatively small.

"Each year more than 50,000 young men earn the rank of Eagle Scout, totaling to over 2 million," said Boy Scouts national spokesman Deron Smith. "We don't have an exact count of medals returned recently, but we have received a few. Although we are disappointed to learn of anyone who feels compelled to return his Eagle medal, we respect their right to express an opinion."

"While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society," Bob Mazzuca, chief scout executive of Boy Scouts of America, said in the statement.

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