Local United Way Changes Non-Discrimination Requirements
April 28, 2006 05:09 AM PDT
By Jason Zimmerman
After local Boy Scouts troops took a financial hit, the Brown County United Way says it's reversing a previous
decision and will once again fund the scouts.
The Brown County United Way board voted Thursdayto change its non-discrimination requirements. The charitable
organization says it will no longer exclude groups like the Boy Scouts from receiving funding.
In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts of America could ban gay men from being troop leaders.
That's when the United Way decided to no longer fund the organization, pointing to its policy against supporting
organizations that discriminate.
The new policy allows the United Way to provide funding to any group that offers services, employment, and volunteer
opportunities without unlawfully discriminating on the basis of any characteristic protected by state and federal
law -- such as sexual orientation.
"We don't have the right to impose positions on people like the Boy Scouts,"the local United Way
chapter's Steve Van Vuren said. "We probably haven't listened to the public as we should have over the years.
There was dissatisfaction withthe decision as it was made in 2001 and we didn't respond as we probably should
The announcement came as a complete surprise to local Boy Scout troops. We faxed them a copy of the United Way's
statement but leaders decided not to say anything at this time, until they can review the decision further.
The director of the Fox Cities United Way wouldn't go on-camera but told Action 2 News no changes are expected
there. They, too, parted ways with the Boy Scouts in 2001.
In Brown County,the goal is to bring donors back. "Yeah, we would like to recover someof the people that
we have lost," Van Vuren admits. "We would like to mend some fences, and once again, we can do that but
we have to listen to the people of the community and we have to be responsive."