KY United Way Cuts Funding To Local Boy Scout Troops Over Discriminatory Policy, But Virginia UW Stays The Course
In May of this year, the Boy Scouts of America removed their restriction on allowing gay youth membership, but their continued ban on allowing gay leaders has caused some United Way chapters to cut funding for the organization.
The United Way of the Bluegrass, Kentucky, has become the latest chapter to cut funds to the Boy Scouts. The chapter which is located in central KY cut off nearly $100,000 in annual funding in regards to the ban on gays.
Bill Farmer, president of the United Way of the Bluegrass chapter, said they love funding the organization and wish the Boy Scouts would resolve the problem so they could continue to do so.
“So this is not adversarial. It’s just a situation that they’re not in compliance,” Farmer told the Associated Press about his chapter’s non-discrimination policy. “Our policy is if an organization is not in compliance, we suspend funding until they are in compliance.”
The BSA Membership Standards Resolution states “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
The policies for all Boy Scout traditional programs (Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturing) are the same as the national council policies.
The United Way of the Bluegrass was the largest contributor to Boy Scouts’ Blue Grass Council which includes about 5,000 members. United Way chapters are locally governed and boards at the local level set policies on funding.
Here in Virginia, however, the United Way’s funding of local BSA continues.
Executive director of the United Way of Central Virginia, Marie Martin said the partnership with the Boy Scouts started a while ago and the Boy Scouts sign the same partner agreement as all of their partner agencies.
“Approximately 15 years ago some community leaders along with UW recommended to the Boys Scouts that an intercity program was needed,” Martin said via email. “The Boy Scouts found a great program that they felt would fit very well for our boys. They came to United Way to secure funding for this particular program. We have been funding this program ever since. It is not a significant amount and some years less than others depending on the amount of funds we have to allocate.”
The BSA Heart of Virginia Council represents local Virginia scouting units in 24 counties.
“As a point of interest, our annual allocation from the United Way community fund is $20,000. This allocation has directly supported our Scoutreach program which brings Scouting to youth in our hard-to-reach communities and represents 9% of our Scoutreach budget,” the Heart of Virginia Council site states.
Bill Givler is Director of Field Service for the Heart of Virginia BSA Council who said locally they get funds from the United Way of Greater Richmond-Petersburg.
“We have a great relationship with them,” Givler said. “They give about $20,000 a year to fund one of our nontraditional programs, our Exploring program which does not have membership standards that are in any way similar to what our traditional programs have.”
Givler said they have received mixed comments on the policy change, which occurred in May, where the BSA’s National Council approved a resolution to remove their restriction on denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone effective January 1, 2014.
“We are having our best recruiting era in a couple years,” Givler said. “Right now we are actually experiencing a big uptick in the numbers of families who are joining scouts, kind of excited about that. Scouting’s growing here in Central Virginia.”
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