On Feb. 28, the company said employees may no longer donate to the scouts through the company’s VoluntEARS program. A Disney spokesperson noted the company’s anti-discrimination policy, which bars contributions to groups that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
The Disney program allows employees to convert at least ten hours of annual volunteer work at nonprofit and community organizations into cash donations for their selected charities, CNN reports. In 2010, employees raised $4.8 million for various charities across the U.S.
Tico Perez, an Orlando, Fla. Attorney who serves as the scouts’ national commissioner, said that the organization is “disappointed” that some funding has been cut.
“However we are not surprised,” he told the Orlando Sentinel. “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.”
Other major companies have cut ties with the scouts over its past and present policies.
The scouting organization had maintained a ban on “open or avowed homosexuals” among both youth members and adult leaders until May 2013, though it did not proactively inquire about sexual orientation.
Through 2012, Boy Scouts of America leaders had reassured supporters of the policy that it would be maintained, citing respect for parents’ needs to address issues of sexual orientation within their family and with spiritual advisors.
However, the organization changed its policy last year under mounting pressure from corporate donors and major media outlets.
The scouts’ new policy, which took effect Jan. 1, now says that youth membership will not be denied “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
The consequences of policy change are still unclear for the organization and for its individual troops, many of which partner with churches.
In response to the policy change, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting affirmed respect for those with same-sex attraction but also warned that “individuals who are open and avowed homosexuals promoting and engaging in homosexual conduct are not living lives consistent with Catholic teaching.”
Less than a year after the Boy Scouts lifted its ban on openly homosexual members, the Walt Disney Company has cut the scouting organization from an employee donation program because it does not allow openly gay scout leaders.
Gay advocacy, Boy Scouts of America, Disney