In Kentucky, one United Way stops funding Boy Scouts as another considers withdrawing

The United Way of the Bluegrass will not make its usual $96,000 donation to the Boy Scouts of America's Blue Grass Council this year due to the Scouts' continued ban on gay adults, it was reported this week.

LGBT children, their families, and their supporters celebrated in May when the Boy Scouts of America put an end to its national ban on gay youth, after a year-long campaign from GLAAD, and the advocacy of local and national advocates and corporations. However, BSA still does not allow LGBT parents like Jennifer Tyrrell to take on leadership roles.

The decision to cease funding was made as a result of United Way's updated non-discrimination policy, which states that agencies receiving grant money from the group must "afford equal opportunity and equal treatment to all persons in employment matters and service provision without regard to," among other things, "gender, gender identity, [and] sexual orientation."

Scout executive Chip Armishaw said that various adults in the local and national scouting communities "weren't quite comfortable with openly homosexual adult leadership."

Now, following UW Bluegrass' decision, Metro United Way may be following suit. The Corrier-Journal reported that the latter group is considering whether or not to renew its $250,000 annual donation to the Lincoln Heritage Council, made up of Boy Scouts in the Louisville area, in light of BSA's anti-LGBT policy. Additionally, The Metro chapter is examining the non-discrimination policies of all other agencies to which it makes donations.

On United Way of the Bluegrass' website, President Bill Farmer has explained his decision. His organization, he says, "believes that every person and child in our community should have access to the resources necessary for them to be able to dream big and achieve their potential."

Farmer goes on to cite Dr. Christia Spears Brown, Director of the Children at Risk Research Cluster at the University Kentucky. Discussing the effects of discrimination, Dr. Brown said, "Discrimination is harmful at all levels. Policies that create obstacles to success in the areas of education, financial stability, and health are not creating solutions that are in the best interest of the community."

Farmer closed his letter by describing what United Way of the Bluegrass hopes to see in the future. "We felt that it was important to continue to spread the message about the harmful effects discrimination has on our young children as well as adults." He continued, "In this fast paced world, if we can help one child from finding themselves in isolation, unable to relate and connect themselves with other supportive and nurturing relationships, we may have prevented something that might result in disastrous consequences. In order for us to address the challenges we face as a region, we need to Live United!"

The donation, made by the local Council's largest single donor, typically accounts for about 5% of the BSA chapter's annual budget. United Way of the Bluegrass will resume its financial contribution once the Boy Scouts end the ban on LGBT leadership.