By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com June 26 2003 11:00 PM ET
The United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania said Wednesday that it may curtail or restrict its annual funding of the Cradle of Liberty Council, the nation's third-largest Boy Scout chapter, because of the chapter's policy of ousting openly gay scouts and troop leaders. The announcement came just one day after Pew Charitable Trusts rescinded a $100,000 grant to the council for the same reason. The United Way gives the Philadelphia-based council, which has 87,000 scouts in the city and its suburbs, about $400,000 a year. The warning comes just weeks after Cradle of Liberty announced that it was doing away with its policy of refusing to admit openly gay members or leaders, then abruptly reversed itself after national Boy Scout officials threatened to revoke the group's charter. The quick reversal surprised a number of groups that had worked for months with local scout leaders to craft the new membership policy, which would have banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The council drew more fire for expelling a gay 18-year-old scout, Greg Lattera, for acknowledging his sexual orientation to reporters during a news conference.
United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania president Christine James-Brown said the group's trustees voted Wednesday to form a committee to examine whether the council's policy of excluding gays is "out of balance" with the United Way's rule that "the services we fund do not discriminate on any basis." The United Way could still decide to go ahead and make the grant, she said, because its money goes entirely to a school-based "Learning for Life" program that is run by the Scouts but doesn't require membership and doesn't exclude gay men. Other options, she said, might include further restrictions on how the money is used. United Way offices have already withdrawn funding from at least 50 Boy Scout councils nationwide.