The Boy Scouts of America lost another major corporate sponsor this week after re-affirming their gay ban. The Merck Foundation announced it will suspend all funding to the Boy Scouts until the ban on gay scouts and leaders is lifted.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has angered many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender by asserting that no scout or leader may be openly gay. The BSA has lost members, leader, and corporate sponsorship because of their beliefs, but remain firm in their decision.
Brian Grill of the Merck Foundation wrote a letter outlining the company’s decision, stating:
“The Merck Foundation believes that it is critical to honor and support a foundational policy of diversity and inclusion in all funding decisions. Recently, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) restated its policy that excludes members on the basis of sexual orientation. The BSA’s policy of exclusion directly conflicts with the Merck Foundation’s giving guidelines.We know that many of you have personally contributed to the BSA and that this decision may be upsetting to some of you. However, we cannot continue to provide support to an organization with a policy that is contrary to one of our core beliefs. We remain ready and willing to re-consider our funding position in the event that the BSA were to revise its policy.”
The pharmaceutical company, based in New Jersey, maintains that officials would consider re-instating BSA funding “when the organization’s inclusion criteria has been expanded,” according to the company website.
In July, while under scrutiny for their position on the LGBT community, Boy Scouts of America officials reaffirmed their policy of excluding gays from participating as scouts or troop leaders. The organization cites support from parents as one of their key incentives for the decision.
BSA Chief Executive Bob Mazzuca states, “The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.”
Mezzuca continues, “We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”
The issue has been a matter of debate in recent months after Jennifer Tyrrll, an Ohio-based mother, was forced to resign from her position as den leader of her son’s Tiger Scout group because she is a lesbian.
In another case, mother Karen Andresen believes that her son Ryan was denied his Eagle Scout achievement because he is gay. In defense of her son, the 49-year-old mother stated:
“I want everyone to know that (the Eagle award) should be based on accomplishment, not your sexual orientation. Ryan entered Scouts when he was six years old and in no way knew what he was. I think right now the Scoutmaster is sending Ryan the message that he’s not a valued human being and I want Ryan to know that he is valued … and that people care about him.”
Do you think that the Boy Scouts should remove their ban on gay leaders and scouts?