- The Washington Times - Friday, March 15, 2002

At least 39 United Way affiliates around the country have stopped direct community funding of the Boy Scouts to protest the Scouts' ban on homosexual leaders.
"I'd estimate these decisions affected 10 [percent] to 15 percent of the average income of an affected [Boy Scouts] council, and they've totaled millions of dollars. And when it happens, we have to find other ways to raise those dollars," said Gregg Shields, spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America.
But the United Way chapters that have chosen to stop giving money directly to the Boy Scouts through the community fund represent less than 3 percent of the 1,400 United Way chapters in the United States. "The vast majority still support us," Mr. Shields said in a telephone interview from his Dallas office.
Both Mr. Shields and Tony DeCristofaro, spokesman for the United Way of the National Capital Area, say they believe the trend involving United Way affiliates cutting funding for the Boy Scouts is winding down.
"I've heard of only two such cases in the last six months," Mr. DeCristofaro said.
Some of the United Way groups that have cut off funds are in liberal college towns. The list includes United Way chapters in Boston; Seattle; Ann Arbor, Mich; New Haven, Conn.; San Francisco; Providence, R.I.; Evanston, Ill.; Tucson, Ariz., and Santa Fe, N.M.
Late last month, the Four Lakes Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Madison, Wis., walked away from at least $75,000 in community-based funding from the United Way of Dane County. The Boy Scouts decided to forgo the funding to end battles it had with the charity over its policy toward homosexuality. However, the council will be able to receive nearly $60,000 in designated donations from the United Way.
Dan Duncan, spokesman for the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, said that group halted direct funding of the Boy Scouts as of last July because the Boy Scouts "couldn't sign" a required "nondiscrimination" statement. Mr. Duncan noted that "sexual orientation is a protected class in the city of Tucson."
Mr. Duncan acknowledged that the United Way's action with regard to the Boy Scouts "clearly had a negative effect" on its last campaign. "Our donations were down. And given the phone calls we received, the Boy Scouts clearly had a strong base," he said.
Mr. DeCristofaro said each United Way is an independent organization and makes its own funding decisions.
He also said the United Way of the National Capital Area, which includes the District, Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland, and Arlington, Prince William and Loudoun counties and Falls Church-Fairfax and Alexandria in Virginia, strongly disagrees with those who have sought to punish the Boy Scouts.
"The Boy Scouts policy is not discriminatory. It's been found to be legal, according to a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Boy Scouts received $536,000 in our last campaign. That was up from $300,000 three years ago and $400,000 two years ago," Mr. DeCristofaro said.
"In checking nationally, the Boy Scouts get a total of $85.8 million from United Way chapters. That makes them the seventh-largest recipient of United Way funds," he said.
The United Way of Westchester and Putnam in White Plains, N.Y., is one of those that ended direct community funding of the Boy Scouts. Ralph Gregory, president of that United Way, said the Boy Scouts council in that area lost more than $100,000 when his organization took that action.
However, he said the Scouts received $26,166 in designated donations in the last United Way campaign in which they were eligible for community funding. And he said direct donations for the Scouts rose to nearly $40,000 in the last campaign, when they no longer received community funds.
Asked if the United Way of Westchester and Putnam supports homosexual organizations, Mr. Gregory said, "There's a difference between excluding a group and targeting a particular population. It's when you say you serve the entire community and exclude part of it that we have concerns."
Mr. Gregory added: "We do not fund groups or agencies that serve gays exclusively. But we do support a group called Center Lane that reaches out to gay and lesbian youth that are struggling with their sexual orientation." He said Center Lane received $5,000 in the last campaign.
Christine Boyle, spokeswoman for the United Way of the Bay Area in San Francisco, said her organization funds a homosexual group called Out and Equal. She said this organization has a "clear policy of nondiscrimination," which means anyone interested in joining or leading it would have to be considered, regardless of sexual orientation. She seemed doubtful many heterosexuals would be interested.
The Boys Scouts are determined to maintain their standards.
"We know not everyone agrees with our values and beliefs … but the message is we're doing very, very well," said Mr. Shields, spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America.
He said that the Boy Scouts will not be deterred by the actions taken by some United Way organizations.
"They won't stop us," Mr. Shields said. "We have a mission to help young people build lives of character."


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide