San Mateo Scouts defy United Way, seek funds
by Lori Aratani
San Jose Mercury
June 5, 1992
The San Mateo Boy Scout Council has asked the public to help make up the thousands of dollars it will lose when the United Way of the Bay Area cuts funding because of the Scouts' refusal to admit gays.
While he declines to say exactly how much the
appeal letter has raised, Scout executive Tim Gorman said he's pleased with the progress of the 2-week- old campaign. But he said he still worries that the council may not be able to make up the $160,000 shortfall.
The San Mateo group is one of five that will lose more than $1 million after June 1992. In addition, Boy Scout councils in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin and San Francisco counties will not receive United Way
In Santa Clara County, the two Scout councils that oversee local troops still will receive the funds because their money comes from a different United Way organization.
United Ways are local, independently run organizations that try to represent the mores of their communities, said John Stafford, spokesman for the United Way of the Bay Area.
United Way donations make up about 20 percent of the San Mateo
County Boy Scout Council's $800,000 budget, according to Gorman. He said he is unaware of any other organization that has followed the United Way's lead and withdrawn its support.
Two weeks ago, Gorman said, he mailed a letter to all registered voters in San Mateo County asking for donations to the council. Vowing not to "start a bitter fight against the United Way." the letter urges recipients "to start now to contribute directly
to us, instead of channeling contributions through United Way."
"We must refuse to bow down to United Way directions - they violate our basic principles," the letter states.
If private donations don't increase, Gorman said, programs or personnel will have to be cut.
Contributions to the Boy Scouts can still can be made through United Way if donors designate it as their charity of choice,
said Stafford of the Bay Area United Way.
The decision to stop funding the Boy Scouts was a difficult, lengthy process, Stafford said. The organization decided to re-examine its funding after a Superior Court judge ruled last May that the Boy Scouts had a constitutional right to prohibit former Eagle Scout Timothy Curran of Berkeley from becoming a scoutmaster because he is gay. The judge ruled that Curran's inclusion would undermine the
organization's teaching that homosexuality is immoral.
"Boy Scouts have always reflected the values and expectations of mainstream American families," said national spokesman Blake Lewis. "We don't believe homosexuals provide a role model that is consistent with their beliefs."
The United Way of the Bay Area requires agencies receiving funding to sign a statement saying they do not discriminate on the basis
of sexual orientation, sex, race, religion or other factors, Stafford said.
In Santa Clara County, the Stanford and San Jose Boy Scout councils still will receive funding, but the United Way there has formed a committee to look at how it can better serve the needs of the gay and lesbian community.
Representatives for the five Bay Area Scout Councils that are losing funding said they wouldn't consider admitting gays in order to recoup
the United Way money.
"No, our policies and procedures are the same as the national policy," said Marin County Scout executive Dale Cavin. "For us to try and change the national policy would be like Congress trying to change the Bill of Rights."
United Way of America also has no plans to change its policy, said spokesman Blake Lewis.
"We have said all along that our
standards are not negotiable and our values are not for sale, whether it's $1,000 or $1 million," Lewis added. "There's no price tag on the values of the organization."
The threat is a reality. United Way is cutting off the funds for Boy Scouts of San Mateo. 40% of our funding, gone.
Why? Because we do not accept self-proclaimed homosexuals as
Scoutmasters for our Boy Scouts. We must refuse to bow down to United Way directions--they violate our basic principles.
Should we start a bitter fight against United Way? No, that's not our style. Sure, our survival is at stake, but that won't force us to take the low road and lash out at United Way.
As Scouts, we're committed to the high road. It's all mapped out in
the Boy Scout Oath and our motto, "Be Prepared."
Can we be prepared for financial independence? Yes we can, and we're looking forward to it. It's a challenge! But that's not all it is.
It's an opportunity, too--another opportunity to exercise our
principles of achievement, leadership, teamwork and community service.
We can all take pride in the accomplishments of our team of over 8,500 Scouts plus families, friends, volunteers and leaders in the schools, religious organizations and businesses throughout San Mateo county.
With everyone working together, success is a certainty for our
ongoing traditional Scouting programs. We plan to continue pouring energy and Scout- power into all our special programs such as Scouting for Food and innovations such as the Safe Rides program we pioneered. Our community needs us as essential partners in service. As independents, we're determined to redouble our energy in community service.
The immediate problem is how to achieve financial independence.
The solution is obvious. We ask you to start now to contribute *directly* to us, instead of channeling contributions through United Way. Direct contributions can make us stronger than ever before.
Did you realize that United Way keeps a substantial portion of every dollar you designate for the Boy Scouts? Every $1 is reduced to $.88 to cover United Way administration costs.
We will all be *better off* financially, if you start now to make your contributions *directly* to our San Mateo County Council. The need is urgent. We don't want to be forced to cut our Scout programs, or reduce our community service activities. It's vital that you respond now, so we can be *prepared* for independence when United Way
support ends at the close of this coming fiscal year. Thank you for your support.
PS - There is also a detach and mail coupon below the letter with helpful dollar amounts in boxes for the sender to check and mail, along with a check.
During the Summer of 1992, BSA National asked local councils to publish in their local newsletters the names and addresses of top people at Levi-Strauss, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo and urge
concerned Scouters to write these executives to protest their decisions to suspend funding to BSA. Secondly, and perhaps more interestingly, BSA sent each council a fax outlying a new policy on donations -- if a donation to the local council comes in on a Bank of America or Wells Fargo check, the council now has a form letter they are to send to the donor telling them about their bank's decision not to support Scouts and asking them to switch institutions. However,
National instructed the local council to go ahead and cash the checks, not to return them with the form letter.
Below are the actual documents which BSA councils nationwide received from National.
LETTER ASKING PEOPLE TO CONTACT THEIR BANKS:
Thank you very much for your recent donation to the Boy Scouts of America [name of council]. It is through supporters such as yourself
that we are able to instill in America's youth the long-held traditional family values for which parents have come to depend on the BSA.
I did notice that your donation check was drawn from [name of bank]. As you may be aware, [name of bank] has recently decided to defund the Boy Scouts of America. I'd like to ask you, as a valued
supporter of the BSA, to voice your disapproval with the bank's action by writing or calling them. Through the power of the individual, we must let our detractors know that the values that the BSA stands for are still held by the majority of America!
Once again, thank you for you continued support.
NEWSLETTER COPY FROM NATIONAL
DATE: June 04, 1992
ID: BSA National Office
FOR NEWSLETTER USE
SCOUTING VALUES CANNOT BE HELD HOSTAGE
In an unprecedented move, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has
rallied members of the Scouting family and other supporters to carry their message of disbelief and disapproval to officials of three companies that have withdrawn support of Scouting because of the BSA's positions on homosexuality and duty to God.
"We have gone on record as saying Scouting's values are not for sale, and we need to emphasize that they won't be sold at any price,"
said Buford Hill, Western regional director of the BSA. "We're encouraging everyone who believes in the BSA's membership standards and values to actively share their concerns with Bank of America, Levi Strauss and Company, and Wells Fargo Bank."
Persons concerned about the decisions of these three companies are urged to visit, call or write local and national management of these
companies. "Special interest groups have planted their flags in several companies. Mainstream Americas need to be sure that their voices are heard by key corporate decision makers, who are under increasing pressure from forces seeking to advance their own agendas," said Hill.
This aggressive approach to communications, announced in a news
conference held in San Francisco June 4, marked the first time that members and friends of the BSA have been called upon to outwardly support the organization. According to Hill, the vast time given by tens of millions of volunteers over Scouting's history has always been focused on young people.
"For more than 82 years, parents, volunteers and friends of the BSA
have rallied as supporters of youth, providing for the physical, mental and social development of young people. Today, we're offering practical ideas to the countless number of volunteers who have been dismayed by recent actions of Bank of America, Levi Strauss and Wells Fargo Bank and who are feeling the need to express their feelings," said Hill, who noted that calls and letters of support have skyrocketed since there first were indications that
some corporations might alter their support of the BSA.
Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank, both California-based, indicated last week that they will discontinue their support of the BSA because of disagreement with the organization's traditional family-oriented values. Interestingly, the two banks and Levi Strauss followed the lead set by the United Way of the Bay Area in
April when that local charitable group announced discontinuation of support for the BSA. We suspect that United Way of the Bay Area was largely responsible for decisions made by one or more of the three companies that recently stopped supporting the Scouts. As a result, a question of propriety has arisen among some in the BSA.
"Publicly traded corporations are charged with acting in the interest
of the company shareholders, not with forcing the views and values of one or two special interest groups on society through a system of checkbook policy-making for community organizations," said Hill. "From the overwhelming messages of support that we receive every day in BSA offices all across America, we're convinced that most corporate shareholders -- including many persons who own stock in Bank of America or Wells Fargo Bank -- do not share the opinion of
these special interest groups."
When asked if the isolated actions of these companies would impact Scouting, Ben H. Love, Chief Scout Executive, replied, "While we're talking about a very small percentage of the BSA's overall contribution income, we're concerned anytime supporters of Scouting choose to discontinue their backing. But in reality, we expect
contributions to BSA to climb as many businesses and individuals increase their support of organizations that represent traditional American values."
The Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 with the purpose of assisting families in the physical, mental and emotional development of young men. Approximately 4.1 million young people and 1.2 million adult volunteers are currently active in the BSA,
making it the nations largest youth development organization.
Scouting is currently preparing for significant growth in the '90s in anticipation of increasing youth participation and a continued emphasis on its traditional family values.