The Walt Disney Company, the owners of Lucasfilm and the Star Wars Saga, have announced that they are pulling their funding for the Boy Scouts of America by 2015. The decision is a result of the Boy Scouts' membership policies banning gay leaders; following years of controversy and court battles, gay youth were allowed to openly be part of the program beginning on January 1st of this year.
Disney, which does not directly donate money to the Boy Scouts but rather uses its VoluntEARS program to do so, has charitable guidelines in place stating that organizations are ineligible to receive Disney funding if they—as reported by CNN—"discriminate in the provision of services unlawfully or in a manner inconsistent with Disney's policies on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, marital status, mental or physical ability, or sexual orientation."
Boy Scout spokesman Deron Smith expressed disappointment over the decision, stating that the Boy Scouts of America "believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience, and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids. America's youth need Scouting, and by continuing to focus on the goals that unite us, we continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve."
As an Eagle Scout and someone who spent many years in the Boy Scouts of America, I agree with this decision. The most effective way of eliminating discriminatory policies like this is to cut off the money stream until the policies change. That's how the ban on gay youth was lifted, but that's only halfway towards a more just policy. We're still at a point where the Boy Scouts will say that a gay youth can represent the best ideals of scouting, only to turn around when that scout turns 18 and tell them that they are no longer fit to be part of the program. It is inconsistent, discriminatory, and must end.
I applaud Disney's decision to stand up for equality.