Walt Disney World became the latest business entity to end its support of Boy Scouts of America over its continued refusal to end its ban on openly-LGBT adults. As a result, the Florida theme park will no longer help fund local Scout units in support of employees’ volunteer work.
While the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council voted last May to end the group’s long-time ban on openly gay youth, it also reaffirmed its ban on openly LGBT adults serving as volunteers or professionals in the organization. As a result, out Scouts will be kicked out of the organization after their 18th birthday.
Walt Disney World’s “Ears to You” grant program functions like an employer matching-gift program, but instead makes donations to charitable organizations for which employees volunteer their time. In the past, this has included Boy Scout troops.
In a recent letter to scouts’ families, the Central Florida Council’s board president acknowledged the change, writing:
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 WDW 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. We will continue to keep an open line of communication with them, but at this time, are unable to reverse their decision.
Scouts for Equality co-founder Zach Wahls said in a statement: “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.”
The parent Walt Disney Company makes clear in its corporate “Standards of Business Conduct” that it and its affiliates do not allow “any form of harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identification, national origin, age, marital status, covered veteran status, disability, pregnancy or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.” Walt Disney World Resorts have endorsed legislation in Florida to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the state of Florida.
In the past two years, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, and UPS have also ended their funding of Boy Scouts of America over the organization’s discriminatory policy.