Caterpillar Stops Funding Boy Scouts Over Gay Ban

By Chris Hoenig

Caterpillar, 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 onthe 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.

Latest News

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey

Arizona Conservatives Attempt to Roll Back LGBTQ-Inclusive Curriculum in Schools

Republican lawmakers in Arizona have approved new laws revamping LGBTQ-inclusive education in schools, making it harder for educators to teach about historical events such as the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City that started the gay rights movement, discussions about sexual orientation or instruction of anything related to LGBTQ…

Black Lives Matter Protest

Florida Passes Controversial ‘Anti-Protest’ Bill Designed to Weaken Black Lives Matter and Other Social Justice Movements 

In a play designed to make it harder for social justice advocates to gather and promote change, the Florida Senate has passed a controversial so-called “anti-riot” bill inspired by the recent increase in protests by groups such as Black Lives Matter. Dartunorro Clark of NBC News has reported that “the…


Disney Theme Parks Announce New Diversity and Inclusion Efforts for Workers

Following long-term COVID-19-related closures, Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort has opened back up for business and California’s Disneyland is slated to reopen on April 30th. The family-friendly company also took some time away from celebrating its big news to announce some inclusive and diversity-promoting efforts it had implemented during the…

PwC’s Leah Houde on How To Reimagine Ways to Higher Education Despite Rising Costs and Barriers to Entry

Originally published on LinkedIn. Leah Houde is PwC’s Chief Learning Officer. PwC is a DiversityInc Hall of Fame company.   The economic and societal gap in our nation is growing. The pandemic has only exacerbated this divide, disproportionately ravaging Black, Latinx and underserved communities. Barriers to education continue to drive wedges between…