Disney Just Cut Financial Ties With The Boy Scouts Over Its Policy Banning Gay Adult Leaders
This weekend, it was revealed that Disney will cut funding to the Boy Scouts of America, because of the BSA's policy banning gay adult leaders. Who knew the company that only recently introduced its first ever gay TV couple could be so progressive?
Although the Boy Scouts took a big (belated) step forward at the beginning of this year by finally allowing openly gay members into the scouts, the organization kept its ban on gay adults serving as troop leaders, staffers or volunteers. The bizarre policy means that, if you're openly gay, you can stay part of the group until age 18 — after that, it's sayonara.
The Walt Disney Company doesn't directly fund the BSA, or even local BSA councils, the company has a system wherein its employees can do volunteer work in exchange for donations to organizations of their choice. According to Mother Jones, some troops have been given up to $6,000 a year in the past — in 2010,the VoluntEARS program gave a total $4.8 million in charitable donations, in exchange for 548,000 volunteer hours.
Starting in 2015, this VoluntEARS program won't allow a cent of those donations to go to the Boy Scouts, saying that the national organization's policies conflicted with the entertainment company's guidelines: according to Disney, groups become ineligible for charitable funding when they “discriminate in the provision of services unlawfully or in a manner inconsistent with Disney’s policies on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, marital status, mental or physical ability, or sexual orientation.” The BSA's ban on gay adult leaders does just that.
"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," said Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman, in response to Disney's announcement. He apparently did not see the irony of his statement.
The company's move, although perhaps monetarily not so significant, is meaningful for those fighting against the BSA's discriminatory policies. Said Eagle Scout and Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls: “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 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,” he added.