Boy Scouts may lose United Way funding over policy to exclude gay community

CLEVELAND - The United Way of Greater Cleveland Board of Directors unanimously voted to add sexual orientation to its Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy at its September meeting. It means the Boy Scouts of America's Greater Cleveland Council could lose their funding, since the Boy Scouts policy is to exclude youth based on sexual orientation.

United Way's new policy reads: "United Way is an equal opportunity employer and believes culturally diverse governance structures and workforces are assets to our organization and our partner agencies. We therefore value and champion equal opportunity to all persons without regard to race, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, religion, disability or sexual orientation. This includes recruiting, training, promotion, compensation, benefits and all other factors involved in the treatment of applicants and employees."

In a news release, Paul Clark, United Way of Greater Cleveland board chairman said, "United Way is devoted to the well-being of our entire community. The Board of Directors expressed concern about our diversity and inclusion policy not specifically spelling out inclusion for sexual orientation."

With sexual orientation now included in United Way's policy, the Boy Scouts are United Way's only funded agency not in compliance.

"We are not telling the Boy Scouts what to do. We will not ask the Boy Scouts to change. As a private organization they have the right to determine who they serve and who will serve them. We, however, have the right to fund only those organizations that comply with our new policy," Bill Kitson, United Way of Greater Cleveland president and CEO said in the news release.

This year, the Boy Scouts Greater Cleveland Council received $97,251 in funding, in addition to donor directed contributions.

This action by the United Way of Greater Cleveland is not new. It now joins a growing number of United Ways across the country to add sexual orientation to its diversity policy, which also means Boy Scout councils in those areas could be losing funding.

In this funding cycle, United Way of Greater Cleveland will invest over $33 million to fund health and human services in the Cleveland area. Some 84,000 donors contributed money to United Way.

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