Disney Will Drop Support Of Boy Scouts

March 3, 2014       The NonProfit Times      

The Walt Disney Company will no longer support the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) after next year due its ban on gay adult volunteers. A memo from Boy Scouts Central Florida Council board President Robert Utsey to leaders and parents announcing the decision was obtained and posted by Scouts for Equality, an organization that seeks to change BSA’s policies on gay members.

“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,” wrote Utsey. “The National BSA Council has reached out to WDW [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.”

Disney does not directly support BSA but through its EARS to You program would make small grants to eligible organizations at which Disney employees volunteered. Starting in 2015, BSA councils and troops will no longer be eligible for the program.

“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,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith said. The Central Florida Council and Scouts for Equality did not return requests for comment.

“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,” Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls said in the organization’s website. The organization, a national campaign started in 2012 to end discrimination within Boy Scouts of America, said it would 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.”

Last May the BSA lifted its ban on openly gay youth when its national executive board voted 61 percent to 38 percent in favor of changing its membership policy. The new policy went into effect on Jan. 1. The Walt Disney Company is the seventh large sponsor to end its support for the organization. The others are Lockheed Martin, UPS, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer (MLS), Merck and Intel.