ORLANDO, Fla. – The Boy Scouts of America are facing more fallout over their ban on openly gay leaders – this time from Walt Disney World, which has cut off funding through its employee volunteer program.
Robert Utsey, president of the Scouts’ Central Florida Council, sent an email to Scout leaders and parents this week saying the program’s support of Scouting, and the money that comes with it, were being discontinued.
“The National BSA (Boy Scouts of America) 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,” Utsey wrote.
The national organization voted last spring to allow openly gay youth Scouts but decided to keep the ban on openly gay troop leaders. Several corporations have severed funding to the Scouts as a result, including Lockheed Martin, Merck and UPS.
“Certainly, we’re disappointed that some funding has been cut,” said Orlando attorney Tico Perez, who serves as the Boy Scouts’ national commissioner. “However, we are not surprised. Disney was very forthright that this was coming down the pike, and they’re otherwise great community partners. We hope to work with them on other things in the future where our interests align.”
Though a Disney spokesperson said the company would have no official comment on the decision, she did point to a corporate policy of not giving grants to groups that “operate or support activities that are counter to the policies of The Walt Disney Company,” which is considered to be a gay-friendly employer.
Last month, Disney joined Darden Restaurants and other influential employers in supporting long-stalled legislation to prohibit discrimination against gay, bisexual and transgender Floridians.