The board chairman of a regional Boy Scouts council said
yesterday that the group was distraught over the loss of funding
from the United Way.
On Thursday, the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania voted to
cancel the second half of a $400,862 grant for the Cradle of Liberty
Council because the council reneged on its adoption of a
nondiscrimination policy against gays. United Way also cut the
second half of a $17,901 grant to the Boy Scouts' Chester County
Council, also because of discrimination against gays.
"We're absolutely devastated by this," said David H. Lipson Jr.,
Cradle of Liberty's board chairman. "We met with United Way. We told
them clearly that we're trying to bring about change. It's
evolutionary rather than revolutionary."
The United Way had been working with Cradle of Liberty
representatives for two years on the issue of discrimination against
gays. The United Way has a policy of nondiscrimination based on
sexual orientation and does not provide funds to organizations that
The Boy Scouts of America won a U.S. Supreme Court decision in
2000 that upheld the group's decision to fire an openly gay scout
Since that time, the United Way has targeted its Boy Scouts grant
money exclusively for the scouts' Learning for Life Program, which
was organized in the schools. Anyone could participate.
In its public statement released after the announcement of the
funding cut, the United Way said it had "determined that there was
not sufficient organizational separation between the Learning for
Life program and the overall Boy Scouts organization."
Lipson, however, mourned the loss of the program for inner-city
"It's character-building training for kids, how to be a better
citizen," Lipson said. "I don't know how we're going to do this. The
program cost $600,000 a year, and United Way gave us $400,000."
Jennifer Hathaway, spokeswoman for United Way, said yesterday
that the response to the agency's move had been low-key, partially
because United Way president Christine James-Brown had spoken to
many people in the community before the decision was made.
"The corporations locally said this was aligned with our policies
of nondiscrimination," Hathaway said.
The Cradle of Liberty Council voted unanimously in May to adopt
an antidiscrimination policy regarding sexual orientation. The move
was directly related to negotiations with United Way and was an
attempt to bring the local council into compliance with United Way's
But when the national Boy Scouts of America organization learned
of the local council's decision, it immediately threatened to revoke
the Cradle of Liberty Council's charter and to replace the
The local council succumbed to the pressure and ousted a South
Philadelphia Life Scout, Gregory Lattera, who announced he was
"The irony is that we are a council that is working to bring
about change in the Boy Scouts," Lipson said. "It can't be done in a
day. We've learned that."