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Walt Disney World ends Boy Scouts grant program due to ban on gay leaders

Thursday, February 27, 2014
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Disney-World

ORLANDO, Fla. — Walt Disney World has suspended financial support to local chapters of the Boy Scouts of America over the group’s continued ban on openly gay and lesbian adults serving as troop leaders or in any other leadership capacity.

The Florida theme park will longer help fund the Central Florida Council Scout units in support of its employees’ volunteer work, according to Scouts for Equality, the national campaign to end discrimination within the Boy Scouts of America.

The Disney Company operates a grant program and donates proceeds to charitable organizations for which employees volunteer their time. Previously this has included local Boy Scout troops.

“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 Central Florida Council Board President Robert Utsey, in a letter to local members.

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

Since 2012, at least seven major corporate sponsors of the Boy Scouts of America have ended their partnerships with the organization. These sponsors include Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, UPS and now Walt Disney World.

“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,” said Zach Wahls, and Eagle Scout and Co-founder of Scouts for Equality.

The Boy Scouts of America National Council voted last May to end long-time ban on openly gay scouts, but it also reaffirmed its ban on openly LGBT adults serving as volunteers or professionals in the organization. Adherence to the policy also means that openly gay Scouts must leave the organization upon reaching their 18th birthday.

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