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May 31st Deadline For United Way Decision on Scouts

After meeting with top officials of the Chicago United Way, activists with the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network report that the charity said they will make a decision on whether to fund the anti-gay Boy Scouts of America by May 31. Now is the time to step up the pressure!
Activists with the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network (CABN) report that in their meeting yesterday with top Chicago United Way/Crusade of Mercy executives, officials with the charity said that a decision on whether they would fund the Boy Scouts will be made by May 31st. Chicago United Way is currently in the midst of its annual vetting of member agencies and in the next several weeks will decide whether the Scouts meet its funding criteria, which includes member agencies following all local and national antdiscrimination laws.
“We felt our point of view was listened to, but of course the most important thing is not words said in a conference room, but actions,” said CABN’s Bob Schwartz, himself a former Scout. “The United Way has a real opportunity here to get ahead of the curve and make a forthright statement for fairness, or it can go down in history as a lagard in the struggle against bigotry.”
Amongst other points, CABN spokespeople told United Way leaders that the Scouts’ anti-gay policy is particularly insidious given the group’s self-appointed role as mentor and guardian of the nation’s youth. “In a country where, according to the Federal government, gay youth face three times the suicide rate of their heterosexual peers, for adult Scout leaders to be promoting anti-Gay hate is a form of child abuse,” said Schwartz. “Scouts leaders sometimes try emotional blackmail by saying cutting their funding will hurt kids, but what about the Gay kids and scout leaders purged from their organization? What about the many tens of thousands of Gay or Bisexual kids forced into emotional torment or worse thanks to the message sent by this irresponsible policy?”
United Way leaders warned of potential damage to career enhancement programs for inner city youth should the Scouts have their funding cut. However, CABN countered that the United Way could fill the gap by directing funding to Mayor Daley’s summer jobs program, which was severely cut this year. CABN also noted that besides the Boy Scouts, there are other private programs such as the Campfire Boys and Girls Club which could fill the gap.
An affiliate of the Scouting For All Alliance for Human Rights, CABN indicated its continued willingness to discuss the Scouts issue with United Way leaders up until the May 31st deadline, but that should the decision be unfavorable at that point, the group would be forced to take action. “We made it clear that we’re looking for a clear decision from the United Way, up or down, and that extending an additional deadline to the Scouts or playing an institutional shell game by allowing them to funnel funding through a quasi-Scouts group would be completely unacceptable, and would force us to make the United Way itself a target of protest.”
In the meantime, CABN urges all who support the struggle to stop anti-gay hate to write to the United Way and POLITELY but firmly urge them to cease funding the Scouts. Please send letters to:
James Kale
Director of External Communications
Chicago United Way/Crusade of Mercy
560 W. Lake Street
Chicago, IL 60661



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