Thursday, February 27, 2014

Walt Disney Company pulls support of Boy Scouts over gay leader issues

ORLANDO -- The Walt Disney Company has become became the latest company to pull financial support for the Boy Scouts of America over its continued refusal to end its ban on openly gay adults serving as troop leaders or in any capacity. As a result, its Florida theme park operation will longer help fund the Central Florida Council Scout units in support of its employees volunteer work.
The Disney Company operates a grant program similar to an employer matching contribution/gift however instead the company donates proceeds to charitable organizations for which employees volunteer their time. Previously this has included Boy Scout troops.
In an e-mail to local troop members, Central Florida Council Board President Robert Utsey wrote,
“We recognize that many Scout Units have received financial support over the last several years from this grant opportunity and are sad to see it go. The National BSA Council has reached out to [Walt Disney World] to try to resolve the situation, however, according to WDW, their views do not currently align with the BSA and they are choosing to discontinue this level of support.”
The Boy Scouts of America National Council voted last May to end long-time ban on openly gay scouts, but it also reaffirmed its ban on openly LGBT adults serving as volunteers or professionals in the organization. Adherence to this policy also means that openly-gay Scouts will be kicked out of BSA upon reaching their 18th birthday.
“We’re never happy to see Scouting suffer as a result of the BSA’s anti-gay policy, but Disney made the right decision to withhold support until Scouting is fully inclusive,” said Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls.  “Scouts for Equality will continue to advocate for a fully inclusive membership policy, to help build a stronger Scouting community that is eligible for the support of Corporate America.”
Since 2012, seven major corporate sponsors of the Boy Scouts of America have ended their partnerships with the organization. These sponsors include Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, UPS and now Walt Disney World.