Zach Wahls Asks Intel To Stop Funding Discriminatory Boy Scouts
IOWA CITY, IA -- Iowa based LGBT equality rights activist Zach Wahls, launched a petition this week on Change.org calling on Intel to cease its financial support of the Boy Scouts of America until the group removes its ban on openly gay scouts and scout leaders. Wahls noted that in 2010, Intel gave nearly $700,000 to BSA despite its policy banning gay Scouts and leaders from participating.
"This is in direct conflict with Intel Foundation's own funding criteria, which stipulates that Intel will not fund "Organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, veteran or disability status," Wahls said.
In an investigation piece by The American Independent's Andy Birkey published earlier this week, TAI reported that according to tax documents, the Intel Foundation gave about $700,000 to Boy Scout chapters in 2010. Those donations came exclusively through the employee volunteer matching program. Of that, more than $320,000 went to Boy Scout troops and councils connected to the Mormon Church.
TAI contacted two of the regional councils overseeing those Boy Scout troops, but those inquiries were not returned. When asked about the Intel’s funding policies, Intel Foundation executive director Wendy Ramage-Hawkins told TAI via email:
“All organizations seeking financial support from the Intel Foundation are required to affirm their compliance with Intel's non-discrimination corporate donation policy. Organizations that cannot affirm their compliance will not receive funding from the Intel Foundation.”
Intel wouldn’t say whether or not it would continue to fund the Boy Scouts.“We will know if and when they affirm our non-discrimination policy and request our support,” Ramage-Hawkins said.
She later clarified that the Intel Foundation will be asking for a statement of agreement with their nondiscrimination policy in the next grant cycle but had not done so in the past; “We have not previously asked for affirmation, so this will be the first time the question is raised,” she said.
Wahls writes: "As an Eagle Scout, I applaud Intel's support fort the Boy Scouts of America as a vital American institution critical in the development of our nation's future leaders. But on July 17, 2012, the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed their discriminatory policy, stating in part: '…we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals…'
Until the Boy Scouts of America removes this hurtful policy that is inconsistent with its own principles, they do not deserve the financial backing of companies that strive for workplace equality — especially innovators like Intel," Wahls said.
Wahls, an engineering student at The University of Iowa, has taken a sabbatical from his studies to actively campaign for LGBTQ equality rights. He recently co-founded a pro-gay group called Scouts for Equality, which currently numbers around 1,500 members.
An Eagle Scout himself, Wahls became involved with the Boy Scouts issue delivering more than 275,000 signatures to the Boy Scouts of America at its National Annual Meeting in Florida in May, calling on the group to end its long history of anti-gay discrimination and reinstate Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who was forcibly removed as den leader of her son’s Boy Scout troop because she’s gay.
Wahls previously called on the Boy Scouts to reveal the identities of the 11-member committee that supposedly investigated whether to allow gay scouts and opted against it, and he's pledged to approach local chapters to press for anti-discrimination policies.
Wahls first burst onto the national scene when he testified in November 2011 before the Iowa House of Representatives about the strength of his family and being raised by lesbian parents.
Video of his testimony went viral, and was the most-watched political clip of 2011, according to YouTube.
Wahls’ mothers were married in 2009 after a decision by the Iowa Supreme Court legalised same-sex marriage; he is the author of the book, “My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family.”
Earlier this month he was an invited speaker appearing before the delegates at the Democratic National Convention held in Charlotte, North Carolina.