Local United Way to keep ties to Boy Scouts

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 3, 2000

Responding to calls from local residents, officials of the United Way of West Central Mississippi re-emphasized that they have no plans to withdraw funding from the Andrew Jackson Council Boy Scouts of America.

The Andrew Jackson Council is the organization that oversees Boy Scout activities in a 22-county area of Mississippi. Vicksburg and Warren County are in that area.

The calls, local United Way officials said, have come as a result of a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that said the membership and leadership criteria of the Boy Scouts of America are protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as rights of expressive association. Specifically, the ruling meant scouting can exclude openly gay men as troop leaders. In response, some United Ways across the country have withdrawn funding from the Scouts, deeming them to be have policies furthering discrimination.

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But United Way organizations are independent; each has a volunteer board that chooses which agencies to support. “These decisions, in no way, impact the support of the Boy Scouts by the United Way here in Vicksburg and Warren County,” said a statement of policy by the local board.

There are 1,400 local United Way organizations, said Barbara Tolliver, president of the United Way of West Central Mississippi, in a letter to The Vicksburg Post published Sept. 24.

Larry Bain, executive director of the Andrew Jackson Council, said his office has received many calls from supporters of Boy Scouts.

“Some people have assumed every United Way” is withdrawing support, he said. “We have five local United Ways in our 22-county area and none of them has withdrawn support.”

Bain also said the council has had only one corporate donor withdraw support, and that company was based in California. All other corporate donors to the local Scout movement have continued their funding.