Martin Cizmar, Former Eagle Scout, Returns Badge To Boy Scouts In Anti-Gay Policy Protest Boy Scouts reaffirm anti-gay stance - Topix
A letter penned by a former Eagle Scout who returned his badge to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in an act of protest against the organization's decision to uphold its anti-gay policy is going viral in the blogosphere.
As Towleroad, Instinct magazine and other media outlets first reported, Martin Cizmar, who now works as the arts and culture editor of Oregon's Williamette Week, described the gesture as "kind of sad, but important" on Twitter.
In the letter, Cizmar -- who is straight -- writes: "Though I didn't know at the time, I was acquainted with a number of gay scouts and scouters. They were all great men, loyal to the scout oath and motto and helpful to the movement. There is no fair reason they should not be allowed to participate in scouting."
"A national policy on sexuality forces good, principled people from scouting," he continues. "I can only hope that someone inside the BSA has the courage to fix this policy before the organization withers into irrelevance."
Cizmar then concludes, "I don't want to be an Eagle Scout if a young man who is gay can't be one, too."
Boy Scouts reaffirm anti-gay stance - Topix
AMHERST - Leaders of Boy Scout Troop 500 say they have long disagreed with the national Boy Scouts of America's policy of denying admission to gay members. But until last week, Scoutmaster Peter Crowley said he believed that policy could best be changed quietly, from the inside.
Crowley's feelings shifted July 17, when the national Boy Scouts organization announced it was sticking with its long-held policy of excluding gay members and leaders - a practice upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. After a two-year review, an 11-member committee decided unanimously "that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts," national scout spokesman Deron Smith told the Associated Press.
The announcement jolted Crowley and a large portion of his Amherst troop's parents into action. He and 15 other troop leaders penned a letter to the Gazette July 20, calling the national Boy Scouts policy "discriminatory" and "at odds with our interpretation of the Scout Oath and Law."
"We want to reassure you, our friends, neighbors and colleagues, that local Boy Scouts Troop 500 in Amherst does not support BSA's policy," the letter states. "Troop 500 invites the participation of all interested 11-to-17-year-old boys and their parents or guardians without regard to sexual orientation."
Crowley, a Leverett resident who has been scoutmaster for the past eight years and whose 17-year-old son, Duncan, is a troop member, believes the national policy has meant "the local gay community stays away from scouting.
"That's what we're worried about - denial of access," he added.
Leverett resident Nancy Grossman, whose son, Dani Miller-Grossman, has been a member of Troop 500 for two years, said the rules also contradict the values that scouting is supposed to be teaching.
"This is like joining the all-white country club," she said. "It's not just a polite disagreement. This is an issue we need to be actively involved in."
The parents of Scouts in Troop 500 are not alone in speaking out about the Boy Scouts membership rules.
Nationally, Change.org, a website that supports activist causes, has collected more than 300,000 signatures on a petition urging the Scouts to reinstate Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio mother who was removed earlier this year as a Cub Scout leader because she is a lesbian.
Following last week's reaffirmation of the policy on gay members, the arts and culture editor of the Williamette Weekly in Portland, Ore., returned his Eagle Scout badge to the national Boy Scouts. "I am not gay," Martin Cizmar wrote. "However, I cannot in good conscience hold this badge as long as the BSA continues a policy of bigotry."
Steve Roberts is head of the Metacomet District of the Western Massachusetts Council of the Boy Scouts of America, covering Franklin and Hampshire counties. Reached at his home Sunday, Roberts referred questions about the reaction of other local troops to the council's Scout executive, Larry Bystran.
When pressed about whether there will be sanctions against troops that do not exclude gay Scouts or Scout leaders, Roberts said, "No. Not in western Massachusetts."
As to what he is telling Scout leaders such as Crowley, who've called him in the past week, Roberts said, "My advice is to express their concerns to the national organization."
Bystran was not in his office Sunday and could not be reached for comment.
At least one other local Scout troop leader said he has no plans to enforce the national scouting ban on gay members.
"We don't ask about that," said William Englehardt, who has led Troop 104 in Hatfield for the past 15 years. "If they want to join, they join. This is a small town so we pretty much know everybody anyway."
Englehardt said as Scout leader his focus is on organizing activities such as camping and hiking.
"I pretty much run my own show here," he said. "I don't do everything the national wants me to do. It doesn't help the boys at all when things become political."
See Votes by State
News & Politics