Local Boy Scouts to Lose Funding Over Policy Change

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CLEVELAND -- A local charity group made a major change to its policy, and now one organization likely will not receive support because of that change.

The United Way of Cleveland and its Board of Directors made a big change to their Equal Opportunity and Diversity Policy.

"Many of our board members were concerned that they had inclusion policies, that were all inclusive in their companies and United Way did not," said Jenna Snyder, Marketing Director of the United Way of Greater Cleveland.

On Tuesday, the Board voted unanimously to not discriminate based on sexual orientation and added this to their policy.  In addition, the United Way will only fund to organizations that comply with their new policy.

"We represent the entire community and we serve all people and that is exactly what this policy is saying," Snyder said.

One group that will be directly impacted by this change of policy is the Boy Scouts of America in Cleveland.  They are the only funded agency not in compliance with the United Way of Cleveland's new policy.

"We were of course disappointed,” said Scout Executive Barry Norris.  “You're talking about a United Way and Boy Scout relationship that goes back some 99 years."

The Boys Scouts of America, Greater Cleveland Council received $100,000 in United Way funding this year alone for the inner-city program called Scout Reach. That funding would end June 30, 2013.

"We cannot fail to serve those young people, we're passionate about that and we will have to find the funding someplace else and I'm confident we will be able to do that," said Norris.

"We are committed to youth activities and we are committed to low income, urban youth and providing them with activities that can help them have a better future," Snyder said.

The Boys Scouts of America Membership Policy has been in place for decades and will not change.

"We do not inquire about anyone's sexual orientation," said Norris.

The United Way of Greater Cleveland has already received plenty of letters and phone calls, both for and against the new policy and they are not concerned about how it will play out with donations.

"We believe this is the right thing to do that United Way needs to be inclusive of everyone," Snyder said.