FAIRFIELD, Ohio - When John Lawson realized an organization he grew up with, the Boy Scouts of America, was actively excluding gays, he made a painful decision and joined a protest movement across the country.
"I sent a letter with my Eagle Scout badge back," he said.
Eagle is the highest rank a scout can achieve and less than one in 100 make it that far.
Lawson made the prestigious rank when he was just 16 in 1974.
"Boy Scouts was a great organization for me," he said. "It taught me many things; teamwork, character education. Things that I not only used in my life as a youth, but I've also tried to continue as an adult."
Even though Lawson isn't gay, he says the policy that excludes gays from being scouts or serving as leaders goes against everything scouting taught him.
"Those same values and tenets were what were causing me to return [the badge], because it was not right," Lawson said.
John Lawson said he felt gratification upon hearing that the Boy Scouts of America is considering a withdrawal from its policy of excluding gays as youth members and leaders.
“I'm real excited to see the Boy Scouts have decided to re-evaluate their policy discriminating against gays in their organization,” Lawson said. “It shows people that you can make a difference, one person can make a difference. And if we stand up for what is right we can change the direction of the U.S. -- and beyond that; the world.”
It has been seven months since John Lawson made his painful decision.
“I'm just one of many Eagle scouts who returned their badge and their awards,” Lawson said. “There's a group that have signed petitions that have worked to get corporate sponsors to withhold their donations until they change their policy.”
The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations to decide for themselves whether to allow gay scouts and leaders.
9 On Your Side reporters Scott Wegener and Mekialaya White contributed to this report.
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