Ask the United Way to Denounce the Boy Scout's policy banning gay youth and parents

Editor's note: I am sharing this news here as an Eagle Scout from Church of the Redeemer in Baltimore, Maryland who believes the good offered by the Boy Scouts is being cut short by the damage it is doing to gay boys and men. We - and the BSA - can do better than this. TCJ


LOUISVILLE, KY –  More than 25,000 people have joined a new campaign on urging United Way, a major donor of the Boy Scouts, to denounce the Boy Scouts of America’s national anti-gay policy. You can sign it here.

Greg Bourke, a gay father and major donor of United Way, launched his campaign on after he was removed from his role as Assistant Scoutmaster of his son’s Boy Scout troop because he is gay. Bourke says the Boy Scouts’ national policy banning gay youth and leaders sends a dangerous message to young people like his son Isaiah, who is now forced to complete the final steps to obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout without his father.

“Despite the protest of my troop, my church, and my community, the Boy Scouts’ message was clear: gay youth and parents are inferior, and not welcome. That’s an incredibly dangerous message to send to young people in our community,” said Greg Bourke, who launched the campaign on “As long-time donors to our local United Way, Michael, my partner of 30 years, and I believe that United Way has a unique opportunity to step up and be a leader here, and to help families like ours.”

Local United Ways heavily fund the nearly 300 Boy Scout councils that will be voting on whether or not to end the national anti-gay policy at the Boy Scouts’ annual national meeting in May. United Way Worldwide, which serves United Way’s National Professional Council of roughly 50 local United Way CEOs, touts diversity and inclusion on its website, but has yet to denounce the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay youth and families.

“A strong statement from the United Way will absolutely be noticed by millions of Scouts and Scout leaders. After all, many Boy Scout councils rely heavily on local United Way funding, and those local leaders will be the ones voting on this policy in May,” added Bourke.

Bourke was a widely beloved and respected Boy Scouts leader and role model. Since his removal, he’s received overwhelming support from Scouts, Scout leaders, Scout parents, and faith leaders. Bourke has also been a leader in his daughter’s local Girl Scouts troop. The Girl Scouts of America, like many service organizations including the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the 4H Club, welcomes gay youth and parents.

“Intel, UPS, Merck and hundreds of other Fortune 500 companies stand united in support of Greg Bourke and his family,” said Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality. “We know that the United Way has no interest in funding discrimination. The time for talk is over. United Way must act.”

With the support of Scouts for Equality and GLAAD, Bourke traveled with gay Scouts and Scout leaders to the Boy Scouts’ National Headquarters in Irving, Texas, last week to deliver 1.4 million petition signatures urging the Boy Scouts to end its national anti-gay policy.

"A growing majority agree that discrimination is not a merit the Boy Scouts should be teaching our children,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “United Way has a responsibility to its donors to honor the organization's core values and speak out against the Boy Scouts' anti-gay ban."