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Disney to end donations to Boy Scouts over ban of gay leaders

Starting in 2015 the Boy Scouts of America's policy banning adult leaders who are gay will cost the organization donations from Walt Disney Co.

Though Disney doesn't provide money to the Boy Scouts' national or local councils, the Burbank-based company with major theme parks in Anaheim and Orlando provides small grants to local troops and packs, said Deron Smith, a Boy Scouts spokesman.

"We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be a part of the Scouting experience and we are disappointed in this decision because it will impact our ability to serve kids," Smith said in a statement.

The grants have been given through a Disney program that would donate money to the Scouts in exchange for volunteer hours completed by its employees.

Disney did not return calls for comment.

Until recently, gay people were banned from the Boy Scouts. The restriction on minors was lifted effective Jan. 1, but the group kept the restriction against adult Scout leaders.

According to the Associated Press, the company's decision was made public after the president of a local Boy Scouts council in Apopka, Fla., sent local troops a memo on Disney's move.

Robert Utsey's letter was posted on the website for Scouts for Equality, an organization advocating against the ban on gay leaders. Utsey said the National Boy Scouts of America Council had reached out to Disney to try to resolve the situation.

"However, according to [Walt Disney World], their views do not currently align with the BSA," Utsey said. "We will continue to keep an open line of communication with them, but at this time, are unable to reverse their decision."

adolfo.flores@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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