Before 31-year-old Portland resident Martin Cizmar mailed his medal along with a letter back to the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Texas, he decided to take a picture and post it to facebook. Little did he know that the picture — which included his medal along with the letter — would go viral and that he would soon be part of a movement of people sending back their medals in solidarity.
Cizmar works as an arts and culture editor at Willamette Week, but had never seen this kind of response before. “I write all the time, everyday, but that’s probably the most read thing I have ever written,” he told us.
The decision was a tough one, according to his letter. He wrote in it that earning his medal from Troop 361 in Tallmadge, Ohio “represented my young life’s biggest accomplisment.” He later tweeted his remorse at having to give it back.
Cizmar also wrote in the letter that he could not agree with the Boy Scout’s decision to continue to ban openly gay boys from paritcipating in the organization. Cizmar, who is not gay, writes in the letter:
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. I suspect you know this, too.
The Boy Scouts of America are not budging on their policy. The organization’s public relations director Deron Smith told us in an email, “Although we are disappointed to learn of anyone who feels compelled to return his Eagle rank, we fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with any one positon or policy.”
What experience do you have with the Boy Scouts of America and their policies? If you are an Eagle Scout, would you consider returning your medal?
- Martin Cizmar: Arts and Culture Editor at Willamette Week who publicly returned his Eagle Scout medal
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OPB | Sept. 22, 2016