I’m Returning My Eagle Scout Medal

July 23,2012
BSA National Executive Board
1325 Walnut Hill Lane
PO Box 152079
Irving, Texas, 75015-2079
To Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive
and the BSA National Executive Board;
The Boy Scouts have been an important part of my life in more ways than I can describe. My father was my first scoutmaster, and scouting was a family affair. I spent more summers than I can count at scout camp, first as camper, then as staff. Those  summers were important to shaping who I am as a man today. After I finished college, I made the decision to go into the Peace Corps based on my Boy Scout ideals. I had, after all, just spent 4 years giving myself a degree, and it was only right that I give the next two to serving both my country and the starving and needy. In The Gambia, I worked with two different scout troops in the local villages. One of those troops still has my old handbook as a guide. I also wrote an “appropriate technology” manual to help with the development effort, and much of the information, from basic knots and lashings to the creative low tech cooking and baking devices, were based off the knowledge I had acquired from my years as a scout. My choice to pursue my doctorate in psychology has its roots in my scouting experience. One of my mentors from scouting pushed me to become a doctor, and as a therapist, I have an opportunity to help others alleviate their suffering. The art I do, my leatherwork, would not have been available to me if it wasn’t for the old scout leather kit I found in the basement, and my time at the Handicraft Lodge. I even still today carry my trusted Swiss Army knife with Boy Scout Hot Spark, just so I can always be prepared.
It is with this knowledge that you can understand how hard this decision has been for me to make. My path to Eagle Scout has been so important to making me who I am. But there is a sad reality in that I cannot continue to keep this honor and still live up to what this honor is supposed to mean.
I cannot accept the exclusion of homosexuals from the organization of the Boy Scouts of America. I am a doctor of clinical psychology who has studied trauma and sexual abuse, and as mentioned in your own youth protection videos, I know that there is no connection between sexual orientation and child predation. I also have a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Rutgers University, and I know that religious objections to homosexuality are neither universal, nor as clear cut as popular culture would like to maintain. I have been trained as a scientist-practitioner of a social science, and I know that sexual orientation is biological, cannot be taught or passed on through association, and more harm is done by forcing a person to deny innate orientation. There is no good reason to exclude homosexuals from Scouting, and no harm will befall our Scouts by ending this unjust practice.  But beyond the facts and the science, there is also a deeper, more moral reason for ending this practice, and it is rooted in the Law we were all taught to follow:
A Scout is Trustworthy, and it would be dishonest for me hold onto my attachments to an organization I know is harming others with discriminatory policies.
A Scout is Loyal, and I cannot count the number of people I would be betraying by not opposing ongoing exclusion in scouts based on sexuality. My friends Daphne, Mikki, Toni, Cara, Mark, Gabe, Rebecca, Dawn, Jessica, Jeff, Isaiah, and many others have taken their turns looking out for me when I was in need of a friend. My various co-workers Joe, Jack, Alix, Louis, Jerry, and Melody were important team members at one time or another, and one was even blacklisted from our organization because of this unjust rule. My childhood friends like Jason and Eric grew up with me, and have maintained friendships over the years. If I were to not oppose the Boy Scout’s policy against homosexuals, I would be disloyal to these very good people in my life, people who have been very loyal to me.
A Scout is Helpful, and promoting any discrimination hurts, not helps, those discriminated against, and the society that allows the discrimination.
A Scout is Friendly, and discrimination is not friendly. And teaching scouts to discriminate does not produce friendly scouts
A Scout is Courteous, and there is no way to politely treat a person like they are less than human because of the way they were born.
A Scout is Kind, and likewise there is no kind way to discriminate.
A Scout is Obedient, but obedience is not blind. As a scout I was always told to stand up for what is right and help those in need. The choice being presented is to be obedient to an unjust rule, or being obedient to a core ideal. I choose to be Obedient to what Scouting is supposed to stand for, not an unjust bylaw.
A Scout is Cheerful. Cheerfulness is about optimism. It is about bring out the good and joy in self and others. Cheerfulness is about encouraging the morale among all those around. You cannot be cheerful as you harm others or treat them as less than human. Discrimination does not sit on the bright side of life.
A Scout is Thrifty. A scout uses his resources not for himself, but for the service of others. Were I to keep this award and ignore the harm the policy is doing, I would be acting in greed, and against the value of thriftiness.
A Scout is Brave. It would be easier to look the other way. It would be easier to support the status quo even if it is doing harm. It would be easier to shut up and just write off this injustice as the way things are. But it is brave to stand up, and risk the repercussions involved in pointing out and demanding change in the face of what is an unjust policy. As such, I am calling on you to be brave, and risk the change that will be best for all involved.
A Scout is Clean, and injustice, discrimination and prejudice tarnish the soul.
A Scout is Reverent.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in religious studies. The so called religious objections to homosexuality are not as clear cut as people like to believe. What is clear that the God I revere desires Justice and Love, and hatred in God’s name is sacrilege.
In addition, I swore, on my honor, to do my best to do my duty to God and my country. My duty to God dictates I act towards all people in the name of Love and Justice. My duty to my country demands I fight for the freedoms and rights of all my countrymen despite race, creed, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. I swore to obey the Scout Law, and I have shown above how I must do this to honor that law. I swore to help other people at all times, and ignoring this unjust discriminatory process is contrary to the ideal of helping others. I swore to keep myself physically strong and  mentally awake, and cannot allow myself to cloud my mind with immoral justifications for immoral rules. Finally, I swore to keep myself morally straight, and standing by silently as others are discriminated against is morally bankrupt.
So it is with great sadness that I feel I must return my Eagle Scout Award, not because I am ashamed of the values of Scouting, but because I know to keep it in the face of the current discriminatory policies against homosexuality is a violation of those core values I was taught to honor as a Scout.
Sincerely
 
Dr. Zachary Maichuk
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One thought on “I’m Returning My Eagle Scout Medal

  1. Paul

    Thank you for standing for the core beliefs of Scouting! I had gotten into a discussion around this very issue recently and when I read your letter someone had posted to facebook it resonated so strongly and closely with what I had stated that I just had to come here and give my thanks. I know that if enough Scouts, those who made it to Eagle as well as any others, if we come together to tell the leadership they are wrong we can change this discrimination.

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