United Way of Cleveland, Intel Halt Boy Scout Funding

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Officials from the United Way of Greater Cleveland announced this week that they will stop funding the Boy Scouts of America in 2013 because the BSA refuses to change its controversial policy that prohibits gay adults and youth from joining the group, Cleveland.com reports.

United Way is a non-profit organization throughout the country and works with other charitable organizations to pool efforts in fundraising and support.

But the organization’s Cleveland, Ohio, officials say they will no longer donate to the city’s chapter of the BSA starting on June 30, 2013. It will also stop funding nearly $100,000 to the BSA’s Greater Cleveland Council for Scoutreach program, which has about 1,600 members, on July 1, 2013, the start of United Way’s fiscal year. United Way of Greater Cleveland will pull its funding because of the BSA’s anti-gay policy, which bans gay leaders and youth.

United Way opposes the policy because it goes against the organization’s own equal opportunity and diversity policy. In September, the United Way board voted to add sexual orientation to the policy that requires that people will be "valued and given opportunity regardless of race, sex, age disability," Cleveland.com noted.

"The implication is that they’re not going to get funding," said Bill Kitson, United Way’s president and chief executive officer. "They’ve told us they’re not going to change. We’ve told them we’re not going to change."

Greater Cleveland United Way’s board chairman, Paul Clark, said the BSA is the only organization in the local United Way funds that has a discriminatory policy.

"I think they view their policy as one of protection," Clark said. "I think the premise of the protection idea is that anyone who is homosexual is a pedophile. I abhor that. I think it’s indefensible."

Top executive at the Boy Scouts Greater Cleveland Council, Barry Norris, told the website that he was disheartened to learn that the groups are going their separate ways, since they’ve been working together since 1913.

"You’re talking about a relationship that’s almost 100 years old," Norris said. "We respect the right United Way has to make their policy," Norris said. "But we didn’t change our policy. They changed theirs." Norris added that the BSA officials do not ask members or volunteers if they are gay.

"Keep in mind that most of our youth members are under the age of 12," Norris said. "And the majority of parents we serve do not believe that scouting is the right forum for same-sex attraction to be introduced and discussed. It’s just not in our purview."

United Way’s announcement came when it launched its 2012 fundraising campaign and Clark said the decision may result in a mixed reaction from donors, with some giving more and others reducing their donations.

Just last week, Arizona’s ABC 15 reported that Intel also pulled its funding from the BSA because of the organization’s policy regarding gay members. The company’s officials decided to stop supporting the BSA after Zach Wahls, a 20-year-old Eagle Scout who has made headlines for his strong support for the LGBT community, urged Intel to take action.

According to a report, Intel gave the BSA nearly $700,000 in volunteer matching grants in 2010.

"Intel made the right decision here, in order to live up to their corporate values of diversity, equality and individual liberty," said Wahls. "Companies that support the LGBT community simply can’t be in the business of funding organizations that discriminate."

In June, Wahls handed over 275,000 signed petitions to the BSA’s officials, EDGE reported. The petitions challenged the groups anti-gay policy, which was established nearly 100 years ago. The officials, however, still refused to change their regulations regarding gays.

Wahls is himself not gay but he has two moms. He made headlines when his emotional testimony in favor of same-sex marriage before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee went viral on YouTube.

From our media partners at EDGE

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