Disney Ends Boy Scouts Funding Over Gay-Leadership Ban

By Chris Hoenig

The Walt Disney Company (No. 39 in the DiversityInc Top 50) will end all funding of the Boy Scouts of America because of the organization’s ban on gay scout leaders.

The halting of donations, which will begin in 2015, only affects local Boy Scouts troops because Disney does not fund the national parent organization. Instead, it provides money directly to the individual troops as part of an incentive program that rewards volunteering hours by Disney employees.

“We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids,” Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith told The Washington Post.

Disney representatives did not respond to requests for comment, but a memo from the BSA’s Central Florida Council, obtained by the website Scouts for Equality, outlined the decision. “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,” Council Board President Robert Utsey wrote. “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 move follows the BSA’s decision last year to repeal its ban on openly gay scouts but maintain its ban on gay scout leaders.

Disney joins a growing list of companies that have pulled funding and donations and put pressure on the Boy Scouts of America to end its discriminatory policies. Before retiring as Chairman and CEO of EY (No. 4), Jim Turley—a member of the BSA’s executive board—publicly urged the Scouts to change its policy of excluding gay and lesbian leaders. He was joined by Randall Stephenson, a fellow BSA board member and Chairman and CEO of AT&T (No. 13), who also put out a statement supporting diversity and inclusion within all levels of the BSA.

Merck & Co. (No. 12) ended its funding last year, as did Caterpillar and CVS Caremark, two of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies. Medtronic (No. 17), IBM (No. 24), Wells Fargo (No. 25) and General Mills (No. 26) have also stopped funding the BSA and its local troops because of the ban. “As a longstanding practice, organizations we support must sign an affirmation of nondiscrimination as a standard part of our grant-making process,” General Mills spokeswoman Kris Patton told WND.

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