Caterpillar Inc. has announced that it will suspend any donations to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) because of the organization's discriminating policy against gay adults. The heavy equipment manufacturer says the move wasn't a direct result of the recent vote by the organization to allow gay youth but continue their ban on gay leaders, rather it was a result of discussions within the company following a donation request by the BSA for $25,00 in funds.
Rachel Potts, a spokesperson for Caterpillar, stated "We have inclusive policies here at Caterpillar Inc., and the foundation abides by those." She added that "We just don't feel that our two organizations align."
"However," she said, "if there's a change in the Boy Scouts' policies, we would certainly consider a change in the future grants – if there was a change that aligned with what our non-discrimination policies are."
"Although, we are disappointed in this decision we believe Caterpillar is a great company and appreciate all it has done for the youth in local communities," Deron Smith, public relations director for the Boy Scouts, wrote. "Our focus continues to be on working together to deliver the foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training."
Zach Wahls of Scouts for Equality was quoted saying "This isn't a crazy, progressive company that's super liberal. (Caterpillar is) very much a middle-American company and I think this indicates where middle America is moving on this issue."
A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll found that 63 percent of Americans support the Boy Scouts plan to begin admitting gay Scouts younger than 18, and 56 percent oppose its intention to continue banning gay adults from the organization.
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s original Change.org petition has attracted more than 343,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders. Tyrrell, together with GLAAD, has launched a new petition to urge the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to completely lift its anti-gay ban on both youth members and adult employees and volunteers. To take action on this issue please visit www.glaad.org/denmother. For more on GLAAD's work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events, visit www.glaad.org/scouts.