“I am renouncing my membership in the Boy Scouts of America and sending my badge back to the national headquarters,” said Myers, an ordained metaphysical minister. “I can no longer support this in silence.”
Myers is one of a growing number of Eagle Scouts throughout the country turning in their badges to protest the organization’s recent reaffirmation of its policy excluding gays. The most recent example of this solidarity came locally when an openly gay scout in Moraga was denied his Eagle Scout status despite having fulfilled the requirements. It was the young man’s predicament that spurred Myers to take action.
“My first reaction when I heard about it,” said Myers, “was to make the gesture and send him my badge as a way of saying ‘you are just as much an Eagle Scout as anybody.’ But then I decided that giving it back to national sends a stronger message, to show that there are those of us who are taking a stand.”
Myers acknowledges that the Scouts’ anti-gay position has always existed, but believes the tacit ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach worked. Now however, he believes it’s time for a change.
“Today they’ve drawn a harder line in the sand regarding the policy, and honestly, it’s always been a policy whose subject was debatable,” said Myers. “But in the face of the evolution that is happening with gays in this country, it’s just ridiculous.”
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 103-year-old group’s ban on gays, stating that the Scouts are a private organization that can act under its own governance. But in 2010, bowing to increased public and political pressure to adjust its policies, the Scouts formed a committee to study whether the organization’s policies were still in the group’s best interests. This summer, the committee ruled that their longtime stance was correct.
The Boy Scouts are one of the last youth groups to retain the anti-gay policy. In recent years, the Girl Scouts, 4-H and Boys and Girls Club of America have adjusted their policies to include gay and lesbian members.
“It’s like being a country club with a racist policy,” said Myers.
But local Scouting volunteer Val Tompkins believes the issue isn’t as clear-cut as it seems. “I’m certainly no authority on the issue and I won’t comment on the policy at all,” said Tompkins. “But I will say that there’s too much good with the Boy Scouts to throw the whole program to the wolves. An awful lot of people are upset about the issue without any knowledge. I think they don’t understand or don’t want to understand the position that scouting takes.”
And as for Myers’ stance? “He can renounce all he wants; that’s his prerogative,” said Tompkins. “But scouting is based on certain values and I personally agree with a lot of them.”
Myers does too, which made his decision all the more difficult. “It makes me sad that this had to be done, but I’m proud that I’m standing up for the very values I was taught in scouting,” said Myers. “If we don’t stand for integrity and act on our principals, then it doesn’t matter what’s on your chest.”