Caterpillar Stops Funding Boy Scouts Over Gay Ban

“Discriminatory” policy doesn’t align with manufacturer’s foundation. Will other companies follow suit?

By Chris Hoenig

Caterpillar Stops Funding Boy Scouts Over Gay BanCaterpillar, one of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies, has stopped giving grants from its charitable foundation to the Boy Scouts of America.

Caterpillar spokeswoman Rachel Potts said the decision was made while reviewing a $25,000 grant application from a local scout group in the company’s home state of Illinois. And while Potts says the move isn’t directly tied to the Boy Scouts’ half-hearted decision to allow openly gay scouts but continue banning LGBT scout leaders, she does call the policy “discriminatory.”

“We have inclusive policies here at Caterpillar, Inc., and the foundation abides by those. We just don’t feel that our two organizations align,” Potts said. “If there’s a change in the Boy Scouts’ policies, we would certainly consider a change in the future grants, if there was a change that aligned with what our nondiscrimination policies are.”

Caterpillar joins a growing list of companies that have cut off funding to the BSA because of the ban. Late last year, Merck & Co. (No. 12 in the DiversityInc Top 50) also suspended donations to the BSA after giving at least $40,000 to the national organization and local councils. “We cannot continue to provide support to an organization with a policy that is contrary to one of our core beliefs,” Brian Grill, Executive Vice President of the Merck Foundation, said at the time. “We’re confident that this decision is aligned with our high ethical giving standards and strong core beliefs, and reinforces our longstanding commitment to policies that prevent against discrimination.”

Additionally, two Boy Scouts board members have spoken out on the issue: Ernst & Young (No. 4) Chairman and CEO Jim Turley became the first board member and corporate leader to publicly urge the BSA to change its policy, and AT&T (No. 13) Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson also issued a public statement promoting diversity and inclusion. Both companies earned 100 percent scores on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

Corporate funding isn’t the only way the revised policy could hurt the BSA financially. The new policy is not enough for California lawmakers, who are seeking to strip the organization’s tax-exempt status because of its remaining antigay discriminatory policies. The California State Senate passed a bill, SB-323, that would begin taxing the Boy Scouts, by a 27-9 margin that marks the first time an LGBT bill has passed the California State Senate with a two-thirds majority.

“They are out of line with the values of California and should be ineligible for a tax benefit paid for by all Californians,” said State Senator Ricardo Lara, who introduced the bill. “While it is a step in the right direction, continuing a ban on LGBT adults is based on absurd assumptions and stereotypes that perpetuate hate and homophobia. What does this mean, that up until 17 you’re fine to be in the Boy Scouts but on midnight of your 18th birthday you turn into a pedophile or a predator? What kind of warped message does this send?”

SB-323 targets all youth-serving organizations, including the Boy Scouts and Little League, and aims to punish discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, nationality, gender identity and religion or religious affiliation. People and corporations would still be able to make tax-deductible donations, but the organizations would have to pay a variety of taxes on contributions and any sales-tax-applicable transactions.

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    i don’t understand this angle. i am a male. if i am in a locker room getting undressed in front of men and some are gay…then is that fair for me not being a gay man? how about if i went into the womens locker room to change? see my point? it would be outrageous even if the womens locker room were all homosexual. the answer must be not going into either locker room! not really, but just saying…

    • Luke Visconti

      If you’ve ever been in a locker room, you’ve already undressed in front of gay men (you didn’t know they were gay, but they were there). I was a Boy Scout, and I knew gay scouts (came out later, but they were gay then). I imagine there were gay Scoutmasters in my troop, but they behaved appropriately, so I didn’t know. I was a Naval aviator; there were gay Naval aviators. I’m a businessman; there are gay businessmen. I’m a Global Services-level flyer on United, so I’ve been in airport bathrooms more than a thousand times (depressing statistic); I haven’t run across a foot-tapping Senator from Minnesota yet, but I’m sure there were gay men in there, too. Although I am heterosexual, I don’t tell that to every person I come in contact with. Likewise, I know there are gay people everywhere even though they don’t announce it upon arrival. Gay people are ubiquitous—always have been, always will be. It’s behavior, not orientation, that determines when you should be outraged. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc


        i hear you. my point is that i don’t care what a person’s orientation is. if homosexuals want to play the discrimination card, then so can i. and if it is discriminating not to allow gays into an organization, then heterosexuals can also pull the same discrimination card. i used the example of the locker room to demonstrate a point, not to validate a Truth. my point still stands. not knowing that i am changing in front of a homosexual does not Protect me from another man “checking me out.” in fact, you are reinforcing my point. i don’t know who is gay in the locker room. exactly. if i have a consistent schedule to a pool, then an unknown gay man could just coordinate their schedule to mine and check me out every day in the locker room. and i would not know it. is that fair? and yeah, if i WAS worried about it, i can just change in a bathroom stall. right? my point is if homosexuals are being discriminated against, then have a homosexual changing room and heterosexual changing room. let’s go the full distance. i think sexual orientation is a Private matter. i don’t run around saying i am heterosexual. and i am not allowed into womens changing rooms. why? because sexual orientation is a Private Issue. homosexuality is a Forced Public Issue. and yeah, i don’t care if a gay man “checks” me out in the pool. i am not naked. another angle would be that a gay man still isn’t allowed into a woman’s changing room. right? is that discrimination? well, i am now boycotting all public pools! (< that is humor).

        • Luke Visconti

          For heterosexual people, orientation is not private. If orientation must become a private matter, then I’d have to take the pictures of my family out of my office because it shows my orientation—I refuse to do that—and the difference between you and me is that I’d prefer to work in a place that allows everyone to have a picture of their family unit. It’s good business: The more inclusive the workplace is, the more people bring their whole selves to work and the more productive they are.

          But let’s address your locker-room obsession: I suggest you find a gym that has individual showers with shower curtains and more private dressing areas. You don’t sound like a mean-spirited person—I get the sense that you’re actually a nice person—so give it some thought. You might prefer encouraging those around you to share their family stories with you so you can share joy together. It’s a better way to go through life. If you’re a middle-aged family person like I am, you’ll end up knowing a bunch of middle-aged family people just like you who have created loving, committed family units. Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

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