The Boy Scouts of America have lost another sponsor due to their anti-gay policies. Disney announced Saturday that starting next year, it will stop all funding to the scouting organization.
While Disney did not comment on the announcement, their website says any charities that "discriminate in the provision of services unlawfully or in a manner inconsistent with Disney's policies” would not be tolerated.
And even though the Boy Scouts of America voted last year to finally admit gay members, the group still maintains a ban on gay scout leaders.
While the company does not sponsor the Boys Scouts directly, Disney’s VoluntEARS program allows employees to help out at organizations and earn money for their own causes. According to the Orlando Sentinel, workers can receive up to $2,000 for at least ten hours of work.
And in 2010, Disney says employees racked up almost 600,000 volunteer hours, raising $4.8 million for charity.
Boy Scout leaders were obviously disappointed in the decision with head of Public Relations Deron Smith saying that "it will impact our ability to serve kids. America's youth need scouting." But the groups national commissioner Tico Perez added that he wasn’t surprised. "Disney was very forthright that this was coming down the pike, and they're otherwise great community partners."
But beyond the BSA, Disney’s judgement drew almost universal praise.
The Human Rights Campaign said the decision "carries a unique weight. When you think about brands that exemplify childhood, you think of Disney, and with them dissociating with BSA, it speaks volumes of where we are with the views we want to send to young people."
Out Magazine added, “Now you’ve done it BSA. Sure you can ignore the HRC or GLAAD, but you do not mess with the House of Mouse.”
And Scouts for Equality director Zach Wahls, an organizer of former boy scouts, said that they’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.”
Even with the split, Disney hasn’t cut all ties with the scouts. Its 1966 scouting film Follow Me, Boys! is still a staple of boy scout camps across the country.
Other companies who’ve suspended Boys Scouts funding include Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Intel and UPS.