Ousted gay Scout leader urges United Way to demand Boy Scouts change policy

Greg Bourke

Don't ask, don't tell. For years, that's been the motto of the Boys Scouts of America when it comes to gay leaders and its members.

But one leader in Louisville did tell, and says he was ousted because of it. Now Greg Bourke is taking his battle against the Boy Scouts to the United Way in an effort to hit them where it hurts most - their pocketbook.

"I was a member of scouting as a youth myself. My son is a member of scouting. It's a terrific program for youth," said Greg Bourke.

But Bourke is no longer welcomed to serve in this organization he loves - leading his son's boy scout troop. After five years of service, he was ousted because he let the local council know he was gay.

"At a certain point, the local council got nasty and threatened to revoke our troop's charter if I was not removed in some way, shape or form," said Bourke.

So, Greg reluctantly resigned, but he didn't go quietly. He decided to launch a national campaign against the Boy Scouts directly and through the United Way.

"Monies given by the United Way should not be used by organizations that practice open discrimination like the Boy Scouts of America," he argued.

Through a petition on change.org, Bourke has gathered more than 60,000 signatures and hundreds of comments.

"A lot of it is from United Way donors who have said I will stop giving to the United Way and I don't want to continue to support discrimination," he said.

But Bourke didn't just make an appeal to United Way Worldwide through some distant website. He decided to come up to Indianapolis to their national Staff Leaders Convention to talk to them in person.

"I expect to be well received. I've had very good reception so far," Bourke said.

"I'm not saying right now United Ways across the country pull your funding. What I'm saying is tell the Boy Scouts how you feel about discrimination - that it's wrong and that if they don't do something about it then their funding will be at risk," Greg said.

The local Boy Scout Council had no comment.

United Way Worldwide issued this statement saying, "United Way listens to and respects the opinions of all who have weighed-in on this complicated issue. United Way Worldwide is committed to diversity and inclusion, and we encourage our members to adopt inclusive policies that create opportunities for everyone."

That statement went on to say funding is up to each local board.

Response statement from Ann D. Murtlow, United Way of Central Indiana President and CEO:

"Diversity is a core value for United Way of Central Indiana, and thanks to a generous and caring community, we are able to support a wide range of agencies and partners that help diverse people learn more, earn more and lead safe and healthy lives throughout Central Indiana. The Crossroads of America Council of Boy Scouts and Hoosier Trails chapters in Central Indiana currently receive support from United Way because they benefit hundreds of young people, especially in urban neighborhoods and poorer communities. Our funding decisions use an inclusive community process that involves continuous conversation and evaluation about the best ways to build a stronger community. On February 18, 2009 United Way's board agreed to financially reward agencies that demonstrate excellence in diversity and provide training to increase diversity competence. As a result of their existing national policy, the Boy Scouts receive no funding based on diversity."