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Valero, other corporations, giving big to Boy Scouts despite anti-gay policies

Photo: Photo illustration by Chuck Kerr, License: N/A

Photo illustration by Chuck Kerr



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The Minuteman Council in Boston added sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy several years ago. Originally, the council's 2001 policy allowed gays to serve in the Boy Scouts as long as they weren't open about it. When the Boy Scouts affirmed the current policy, the council issued a statement disclosing its current nondiscrimination policy that includes openly gay scouts and leaders.

The Connecticut Rivers Council has routinely signed a statement with the United Way declaring that it will not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, according to a WTXX-TV report.

Corporate donations to those councils and troops appear to have been fairly small. In Minnesota, however, an inclusive scout council has received the bulk of funding from three of the top 50 corporate foundations.

The Northern Star Council, which covers the Twin Cities and western Wisconsin, has been inclusive for more than a decade. A spokesman for the council told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that the announcement by the national Boy Scouts would not cause that to change.

"We're a reflection of the community," spokesman Kent York told the paper. "Our commitment has been to reach out to all young people and have a positive influence."

The Northern Star Council has an "inclusive leadership program" he said.

In an interview with South Florida Gay News, York said they haven't seen any reprimand from the national Boy Scouts of America.

"We're trying hard not to be in conflict with national. We're continuing an approach which has worked in our community. This focus on sexual orientation is really outside the scope of our mission," he said. "I'm sure that there is something [national] could do about it, but fortunately we haven't found out what yet."

Minnesota's biggest corporate donors to the Boy Scouts have given much of their funding to the inclusive Northern Star Council.

General Mills, based in Minneapolis, gave $34,000 to different scout chapters through their corporate foundation in fiscal year 2010. The vast majority, $30,000, went to the Northern Star Council. In fiscal year 2009, General Mills gave $42,000 to the Scouts; again the majority of that, $40,000, went to the Northern Star Council.

"As a longstanding practice, organizations we support must sign an affirmation of nondiscrimination as a standard part of our grant making process," the General Mills Foundation told TAI in a statement.

In 2010, the 3M Foundation gave about $279,000 to various BSA chapters across the country; nearly $265,000 of that went to the Northern Star Council.

The Medtronic Foundation gave $52,000 to the Boy Scouts of America during its fiscal year ending April 30, 2010. About $27,000 of that went directly to the Northern Star Council, and another $13,000 went to individual scout troops within the Northern Star Council.

In the past, Medtronic has been sharply critical of the national Boy Scouts' exclusionary policy. In 2000, the foundation announced that its $1 million United Way contribution for the year would be directed away from the Boy Scouts of America.

"It is important that the gift reflects … the values of our company and our commitment to nondiscrimination," Penny Hunt, former head of the foundation, told the Associated Press at the time.

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