Straight Eagle Scout Returns Badge in Protest of Boy Scouts’ Anti-Gay Policies


Martin Cizmar, the arts and culture editor of Portland Oregon's weekly Williamette Week, returned his Eagle Scout badge to the Boy Scouts yesterday in protest of the group's anti-gay policies.

CizmarWrote Cizmar: "I am not gay. However, I cannot in good conscious hold thi sbadge as long as the BSA continues a policy of bigotry. Though I didn't know at the time, I was acquainted with a number fo 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."

Added Cizmar on Twitter: "Just mailed my Eagle Scout medal back to the BSA to protest the ban on gay scouts. Kinda sad, but important."

(image via imgur)


  1. Gigi says

    When I was a young boy growing up in a very small farming town I never, ever imagined that we’d have the level of support from the straight community that we do today. In those days (mid-80’s) we were nothing more than an afterthought. Something to be ridiculed and made fun of. While those attitudes still persist it’s important to realize how far we’ve come. I really appreciate guys like Cizmar who aren’t afraid to stand up against such injustices. Thank you sir!

  2. Vince says

    Mr. Cizmar: thank you for your support. Obviously, the teachings of being an Eagle Scout prevailed in spite of the bigotry held by those powers that be

  3. Mike says

    He is keeping the Boy Scout Oath, Duty to Self (self integrity), Duty to other people (LGBT people and all free people)and Duty to God (who created all people equal) and Duty to Country (America is a country where all men have equal rights under the law with freedoms and justice for all). The Boy Scouts have a history of discrimination going back to when they refused black African Americans from being Boy Scouts. Until the Boy Scouts allow all people to join they are no longer a part of America and should be refused and denied any and all rights until they stop their policy of discrimination against minority people such as LGBT children and their parents who want to be Scouts.

  4. gr8guyca says

    A great and moving letter. Not only has he returned his medals, but he has also crafted an eloquent rebuttal to the actions of the leaders of the Boy Scouts. One can only hope that they will listen.

  5. Tom in long beach says

    Martin Cizmar, what a great guy !! Mikes comments really hit the nail on the head. Strait guys that are artistic or into culture almost always get it. His is very selfless gesture that is a powerful statement. The letter is very well written.

  6. Kris says

    It’s good to see one brave scout continuing to do the right thing so many years after becoming an eagle scout. I’m hoping there are more scouts who will stand with him.

  7. mike128 says

    It’s great to have allies. I, too, never imagined that our community would begin getting so much support from straight men. I’m grateful for people like Martin – they move this important healing process along.

  8. Steve says

    This is my feeling completely. I do not understand such a bigoted stand. “A Boy Scout is ….Friendly, courteous, kind, ….”, not bigoted, hateful, exclusive. “A Boy Scout is Reverent”….. not to a hateful, right wing, exclusive god, but a Boy Scout is reverent to his own tradition and to the beliefs of others……He is supposed to protect and defend the rights of others to be different in their religious views. THAT is the tradition I learned. It wasn’t until years later as an adult that I realized that the Boy Scouts didn’t really mean any of those things; that they were co-opted by pseudo-militaristic, misogynistic, religious thugs who were candy wrapping such powerfully dangerous ideas inside the Scout Oath. They don’t want anyone who isn’t their own kind. As far as this Eagle Scout is concerned, they (the national council) is now a front for the KKK. If I could actually find my Eagle, I would return it to the national council saying I don’t believe in bigotry, hate and fear mongering, I also don’t believe in the hateful, fear mongering god that they actively promote.

  9. DannyEastVillage says

    Watta guy–and one who understand what the BSA is all about much better than those who kow-tow to fake-religion-based bigotry.

    What a guy.

  10. psxblueyes says

    Martin –
    I know this was a difficult decision for you. But I also know that a scout does strives to do the right thing, even if he stands alone. You did the right thing. Thank you.

  11. Francis says

    Extremely well written, powerful letter. Commends to Mr. Cizmar, as has been said, it’s awesome to see such support from a straight male eagle scout, great to see someone who truly “gets it” and selflessly does the right thing.

  12. Jay says

    Martin, thank you. Your actions exemplify the best of scouting. Your support and those of others like you is incredibly important. I congratulate you on your scouting achievements but, more importantly, on how you have put the life lessons learning in scouting to good use.

  13. Chutney says

    It is a shame that scouting continues to hold a tradition of bigotry and exclusion. Martin, as a former boy scout, cub scout den leader and a transgender woman, I want to commend you for the eloquence and power of your action. That has got to be one of the greatest acts of bravery and support I have had the honor to witness.

  14. MrRoboto says

    Kudos to Martin & Jeff (and everyone else making stands like this). While you may no longer have the medal, you possess the ideals and integrity that it represents, and that’s really so much more valuable and important.

  15. Robert In WeHo says

    Good for him. I was a scout and as a former scout and Eagle Scout who finds the current BSA more than despicable, I deeply appreciate the stand he is taking…

  16. andrew says

    Please don’t tell me that there are GAY scout leaders. The next thing that you will tell me is that there are gay Catholic priests. If you toss out all the gay scout leaders and all the gay Catholic priests you will end those institutions and mabye that is a good thing.No mabye about it.

  17. andrew says

    I’m sure that this is not PC. But, when I was a boy growing up in a working class neighborhood near Phila, it was considered “gay” to be a boy scout. Me and my buddies would never have joined such a “gay” or “nerdy” group. I guess times change.

  18. Mary says

    Returning medals is his right to do. And certainly a better way to register a protest than to boycott an organization. His message is “there is no “honor” in bigotry.” It’s a good lesson to teach people.

  19. says

    The sad part is that this will not make a bit of difference in the BSA’s decision making process (or lack thereof). The BSA remains, and most likely will remain, a homophobic, worst-first, risk-averse organization that is watering down the program to the point where true adventure is canned, safer than walking to school, and simply nothing like what it was even 10 years ago. As to the return of Eagle medals, it means nothing to them. They don’t go through the files and pull that record out and shred it. They probably chuckle and ignore it, snickering “probably a closeted gay, so good riddance”. The BSA spent millions to take their right to association to the Supreme Court, they won, and they will likely not retreat from that stance any time in the foreseeable future, no matter how many Eagles renounce their ranks.

    Jay M.

  20. Cindylou Turner-Taylor says

    When I heard the news I thought it was a spoof item. I am a Lesbian and have been an Assistant Scout Leader and a Group Scout Leader in England. My troop had at least one gay scout (not that it was any of our business) and it was really helpful to have a gay leader to help the other leaders-not that they needed it. Not all troops are as inclusive as ours but at least we have a clear statement here in support of LGBT scouts, leaders and families to back us up. Roll on BSA catching up with the UK

  21. amanda says

    you sir are an inspiration to all straight allies. I love to see allies really step up. You have sacrificed a great accommplishment for the greater good…for us. I know just how much this award means because i recieved my girl scout silver and gold awards. While you may not have the physical award, they cannot take away the services you have done for the country and the community. For that we salute you.

  22. Jody Hoover says

    Did you also return every opportunity that was given to you because you were an Eagle Scout. I am an Eagle Scout and personally was able to attend a college that my academic standing alone would not have let me. I have also gotten jobs because I stood out from others for having my eagle scout award.

    So, for you to make this statement of renouncing you Eagle Scout award, did you return all money from:

    Jobs that you got b/c eagle scout got you ahead
    Scholarships that were awarded b/c of your Eagle Scout

    If you are gonna take a stand, go whole hearted or don’t do it at all. That badge / rank has given you much and as an Eagle scout, I expect you to give it ALL back if you give the badge back as well.

  23. Jerry6 says

    @ Jody Hoover I have reviewed hundreds of resumes during my business carrier, and cannot recall any one siting a Boy Scout award as a part of their business background.

    I do not know your age, or background, but in the Pre WW2 period, Homosexuality was not something that was on everywone’s mind. My Scout Troop had a known Homosexual (Queer; in those days)Scout Master. We had two Strait Patrols, and one for us “Queers”. However, our Troop was NOT sponsored by a Religious organization. Nor were we an exception. At Summer Scout Camp, we saw that there were other troops with “Queer” members; just like us. (It was hard to tell us apart because at the Morning and Afternoon swims in the Lake, only the 20 something year old Life Guards wore bathing suits.)

  24. Jody Hoover says

    36. My resume has Eagle Scout under awards and honors. I have beaten out other applicants for jobs because of this. Recruiters and managers have told me this is why I was chosen over others.

  25. says

    Eagle Scout here. And gay. I knew a lot of gay scouts, when I was in the organization. The powers that be are stupid and naive. I’m willing to bet that at least 50% of boy scouts are/turn out to be gay. Being a boy scout doesn’t make one gay. I’m going to turn in my eagle scout badge and the cool looking ‘gold card’ given to me, signed by Bush (yuck). I’ll write a letter too!

  26. Jules says

    I, for one, thanked the committee members for their decision. As an old Eagle Scout, and Order of the Arrow member, Iunderstood what the last two words of the OATH we first took at age 11 meant – an oath we took very seriously. Those two words still mean the same thing, though society has tried to change the definition and meaning of almost every word in our language in the ensuing 50 years. Apparently Terry Perlin, Kelsey Timmerman and other Eagles who’ve turned in theirawards in protest didn’t understand that, or held mental reservations when they took the Oath, and were therefor undeserving of the award to begin with.

    The three parts of the Oath are to (first) God, then country and to one’s self – in that order for a reason. The Boy Scouts of America is first a “religious” organization, and always has been, for that reason, to help young boys establish a moral compass to guide themselves through the rest of their life. If parents have some other purpose for their young children, then they should direct their kids to some other organization, and accept the sometimes unintended consequences of their decisions.

    I know of no major world religion or spiritual belief that permits immorality, save one, but then I don’t expect that so-called “religion” to ever accept the ideals of scouting – in the traditions of the BSA, that is. As scouts, we were taught to respect the rights and choices of others. But we were never required to associate with anybody who held beliefs, ideals, traditions and morality outside of ours.

    Finally, the BSA is a FAMILY-oriented organization. Homosexuality is about as polar opposite a belief as you can get from that.

  27. pb11 says

    Everyone here knows that the german SA forces evolved out of pederast hiking club and that almost all the early nazis were gay? right? you know this? the Wandervogel (Rovers or Wandering Youth) You all know this right? It was a hiking club for adult men and boys where pedophilia was part of the hike…..right? you all know this?

  28. Josh says

    The Boys Scouts aren’t phased by this stuff. They shred the badges and recycle metals for any content of value. These letters remind me of the endless letters of recommendation They become stale and ultimately have no resemblance to the person being described. No one is ever the saint they are portrayed to be — and that includes you Martin. You can feel good about yourself.

  29. lala says


    I don’t even know how I stumbled onto this site, this thread or reading these comments. Although I was very touched, I had no intention of leaving a comment until I stumbled upon your post.

    How sad it made me feel for you! I have to ask. Do the religious morals and values instilled in you from church and BSA that you referred to in your post make you an expert on what constitutes a family?

    My family is as apple pie as they come. Flag waving, church going, over-achievers and leaders in our community. We also happen to have a child in our family, my nephew, who is gay. From the moment that child drew his first breath he was never more to us than a blessing from God. He’s a homosexual. He is also left-handed and has brown eyes. It is all little parts that make him the wonderful human being he is.

    No, he wasn’t a Boy Scout, but he exhibits the same values and morals and caring and service to others and community that I have witnessed in other friends and family that did proceed through BSA through the years. A couple of years ago, my nephew saved the life of a complete stranger at the beach. I can assure you that the young boy’s life he saved, and his entire family, and everyone else on the beach that day couldn’t care less that the lips administering CPR were the lips of a homosexual man. I have never been more proud or thankful my nephew was put on this earth. It was Thanksgiving day.

    My nephew has a wonderful partner in a loving, caring relationship. We all adore him too! Oh, I can’t wait for the day I can dance at their wedding. His southern Baptist grandparents will be there as well, (but they won’t drink!) They will make wonderful parents one day too.

    Jesus came to change the old law, and left us with one commandment, “To love our neighbors as ourselves.” I will pray for you.

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