Former Boy Scout turns in all of his awards to protest organization's discriminatory policies
POSTED: Friday, August 3, 2012 - 1:30pm
UPDATED: Friday, August 3, 2012 - 1:34pm
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — A Bangor, Maine eye doctor and former Eagle Scout is taking a stand against the Boy Scouts of America.
Dr. Mark Varnum recently give back all the medals he earned as a scout because of the organization's policy which bars gays and lesbians from joining.
This past month the Boy Scouts of America decided to uphold that policy, which has long been criticized by gay and lesbian groups all over the nation.
Varnum says in his eyes the policy is discriminatory.
Varnum was in the scouts for much of his young life and earned the rank of Eagle Scout after four years in the organization.
He recently turned in that title to the Boy Scouts along with two medals of advancement.
That came after the Boy Scouts decided to keep their policy keeping open gays and lesbians from enrolling as scouts and scout masters.
Varnum says the policy simply goes against the founding principles of the organization.
He claims it keeps certain groups of young people from developing skills and teaches kids that it's fine to exclude others.
"It doesn't matter what that individual policy is," he said, "it doesn't matter what that specific class is, it is that discriminatory nature and teaching the youth that it's okay to do that, that's the issue that I have the biggest problem with."
Varnum is not the only Eagle Scout in the country to do this.
Others around the U.S. have also turned in their medals to the Boy Scouts in protest.
The organization issued a statement defending its policy on gays:
"While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society...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 position or policy."
Dr. Varnum says he won't consider going back to the scouts until all such policies towards gays are gone.