UPS cuts Boy Scouts funding over discrimination

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Zach Wahls - Photo: Courtesy Lambda Legal

The philanthropic arm of UPS said it will cease donating to the Boy Scouts as long as the group continues to discriminate against gays.

UPS is the second major corporation to recently strip funding from the Scouts. Intel took the same action earlier this year.

Both companies changed course after Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two mothers and founder of the group Scouts for Equality, began petitions at Change.org calling for corporations to end their financial support of the BSA. 

Other groups took up the cause, including GLAAD, which has highlighted the case of a lesbian mother in Ohio barred from volunteering with her son’s Cub Scout pack.

The Atlanta-based UPS Foundation gave more than $85,000 to the BSA in 2011, according to its federal tax return.

“Corporate America gets it better than most: Policies that discriminate aren’t simply wrong, they’re bad for business and they’re hurting the scouting community,” Wahls said following the UPS announcement.

UPS spokeswoman Kristen Petrella said groups applying for the foundation grants must adhere to the same standards UPS does by not discriminating against anyone based on race, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

“We promote an environment of diversity and inclusion,” Petrella said. “UPS is a company that does the right things for the right reasons.”

Petrella said the company had been concerned about discrimination by the BSA before the petition drive.

The Scouts said this summer it was sticking with its long-standing policy of excluding openly gay youth and adults.

Deron Smith, the director of public relations for the Texas-based BSA, said the group was disappointed about the decision from UPS.

“These types of contributions go directly to serving young people in local councils and this decision will negatively impact youth,” Smith said. “Through 110,000 units, Scouting represents millions of youth and adult members in diverse communities across the nation, each with a variety of beliefs on this topic.”

The policy of excluding gays has come under increased scrutiny within the last month, as thousands of confidential files released as part of a lawsuit show top leaders for decades tracked thousands of scoutmasters and volunteers who sexually abused boys in their care but routinely failed to report them.