The Boy Scouts of America has lost its largest corporate donor, Intel, which announced today that it will stop giving to the group unless it vows to stop discriminating against gay people.
The Intel Foundation was identified in an investigation by The American Independent, which was also posted by The Advocate, as having given about $700,000 in 2010 to the Boy Scouts. It was by far the largest share of corporate giving, with the Verizon Foundation donating more than $300,000 several big banks reaching the $100,000 range.
A petition calling on Intel to end its support gathered more than 30,000 signatures in little more than 24 hours. It's now been updated, proclaiming, "Victory!" Leading that push was activist Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout raised by two lesbian moms. He first got involved in the cause against the Scouts, which bans gays and lesbians from being troops or leaders, after mother Jennifer Tyrrell was removed as a den leader earlier this year.
Intel explained its change in position via a statement to ThinkProgress, clarifying that the company had not given the money directly to the national organization.
"The $700,000 in funding from the Intel Foundation was donated to local Boy Scout troops or councils where our employees volunteer their time, through our volunteer matching grants program," said Chief Diversity Officer Rosalind Hudnell in the ThinkProgress report. "Due to significant growth in the number of organizations funded, earlier this year we revisited our policies associated with the program, and applied new rigor that requires any organization to confirm that it adheres to Intel’s anti-discrimination policy in order to receive funding."
The Independent's reporting showed that the donations violated the company's own existing requirement that recipients be inclusive.
Wahls has pushed local chapters to denounce the national policy and go their own way. Those that do will then become eligible for Intel's donations, ThinkProgress reports.
"Companies that support the LGBT community simply can’t be in the business of funding organizations that discriminate," Wahls said in a statement. "Frankly, by sending this message, Intel is upholding the true spirit of Scouting better than the BSA is today."
For the part of the other corporate donors, only UPS has made clear that it will continue to donate to the Boy Scouts. The Independent found nearly $167,000 in donations from that company in 2010. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which had been working with Wahls, warns of more consquences if the Boy Scouts doesn't change its ways.
"All of the great work that the BSA does to help young people will continue to be overshadowed by their blatant discrimination until they join other inclusive national organizations like the Girl Scouts of the USA and the 4-H Club," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "The time is now for the BSA to side with fairness, otherwise they will continue to see sponsors and scouting families drop their support."