Guy gave back Eagle Scout badge 5 years ago over homophobia, but got a wonderful reply
A man in Baltimore, MD, who handed in his Eagle Scout badge in to the local council due to homophobia, has received an amazing response to his letter, five years later. Sean Burns sent his Eagle Scout badge to the Connecticut Council due to a national policy change whereby if a scout openly came out as being gay, they would be removed.
Sean's godfather Tom, described the policy as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and said that it was bad news for children "who have enough anxiety and problems" already. Sean believed that an organization like the Scouts should be a haven for young men, and in his letter he said the he, "cannot, in good conscience, continue to honor my unspoken obligation to uphold your organizational merits as a member of the elite group of men who have attained your highest rank."
Despite the CT council saying that they wouldn't enforce the homophobic policy, Sean pointed out that the national organization could still step in and "outrank" their decision. Sean goes on to say that he knew of a gay man during his time in the scouts, and that he was performing his actions in honor of him.
"On a personal level, one of the men who I grew up with scouting is - and to the extent that we somewhat knew during our time as scouts, was - a gay man. While we were members in our troop, this was never considered anything worth disagreeing with, even if the organization discouraged openly gay adults from serving in positions of leadership." Sean wrote.
"I do not know if he has decided to take similar action, but is in honor of him, and more importantly those like him that may currently be scouts and not have the comfort of knowing that the organization does not openly discriminate against him nor want his membership, that I take this action."
Sean ended the letter saying that he hopes that the Boy Scouts of America would eventually reverse their policy and see that the value of a person lies in their moral code, rather than who they love. He concludes, saying that he realises that his words will probably fall on deaf ears, but that he felt like he had to hand his badge back in.
However, while Sean didn't hear anything for over five years, he recently received a response from Steven A. Smith, a scout executive. Two years ago, the scouts changed their policy on gay leaders, and Steve wrote to Sean in order to thank him for raising the issue. The letter, which was accompanied with Sean's original badge, reads:
"A couple of years ago scouting changed. I kept your badge, but misplaced it. Today cleanin out a desk drawer I found it.
"I remember getting your letter, I and our council worked hard for many years to get the National BSA position changed. Your ote was further inspiration to push harder for change.
"I hope you will accept your badge back and know your note made a difference."
It's very uplifting story, and its good to see that the scouts have changed their policy when it comes to homosexual leaders. Well done to Sean for standing up for what he believed in, and credit to Steve for writing back after all this time. Good work all round!