The Walt Disney Company is planning to cut funding to the Boy Scouts of America beginning in 2015 because of a policy that bans gay adult leaders, The Washington Post reported. It joins six other former corporate sponsors of the Boy Scouts of America—including Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel and UPS—that have ended their partnerships with the organization.
The news was first announced on the website of the advocacy group Scouts for Equality, which praised Disney's decision to end its local support of the Boy Scouts of America’s Central Florida Council.
The Boy Scouts organization is “disappointed” by the decision, which it told The Washington Post will affect the organization’s ability to serve children.
“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 Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls, who is himself the straight child of a lesbian couple. “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.”
Disney does not give money directly to the national organization or local BSA councils. However, through its VoluntEARS program, Disney allows employees to do volunteer work in exchange for cash donations to the charities of their choice, according to CNN.
Disney employees raised a total of $4.8 million for charity in 2010 by volunteering for various events, according to Time.com, and groups become ineligible to receive aid from Disney through the company’s volunteer-for-cash programs if they discriminate based on “race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, marital status, mental or physical ability or sexual orientation,” the company said.
In an e-mail to local members published in full on the website of Scouts for Equality, 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.”