CHICAGO — A suburban Chicago man is among the Eagle Scouts returning his medal to the Boy Scouts of America in protest of the organization’s recent decision to continue its ban of homosexual scouts and leaders.
Rob Breymaier, executive director of the Oak Park Regional Housing Center, said he has long opposed the anti-gay policy, but he wanted to send back the medal because he has lost hope that the 102-year-old organization would “do the right thing.”
“I could always explain away that it was an old policy and that sooner or later, we’ll be able to force a vote on the issue,” Breymaier said. “But when this vote happened and they reaffirmed the policy, it was just too much. It was infuriating, embarrassing and upsetting.”
Eagle Scout is the highest Boy Scout rank. Among the stringent requirements, a Scout must earn 21 merit badges, serve six months in a leadership position and successfully complete a board of review, according to the Boy Scouts website.
Boy Scouts of America officials announced their decision to reaffirm the ban on gays July 17 after a two-year evaluation in response to intensified scrutiny.
Deron Smith, spokesman for Boy Scouts, said five Eagle Scouts had returned their medals in protest of the policy as of Friday. He reiterated the group’s position that the majority of members agree with the ban.
“Scouting represents millions of youth and adult members in diverse communities across the nation, each with a variety of beliefs,” Smith said. “Although we are disappointed to learn of anyone who feels compelled to return his Eagle rank, we fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one position or policy.”
People have returned medals for a variety of reasons over the years, he said, but he did not have an exact count.
Breymaier, who put his medal in the mail Friday, said that he spent 10 years as a scout in his native Toledo, Ohio, and another 10 years as an adult leader of the same troop.
This article originally appeared on: http://news.bostonherald.com/news/national/midwest/view/20120730citing_anti-gay_policy_eagle_scouts_return_medals/srvc=home&position=recent