|The University and the United Way|
Our university, for a number of years, has dedicated enormous amounts of time, energy, and resources annually to successfully promote and collect monetary donations for the United Way (UW), a global organization, according to its vision and goals “envisions a world where all individuals and families achieve their human potential through education, income stability, and healthy lives.” The United Way Worldwide represents itself as “the leadership and support organization for the network of nearly 1,800 community-based United Ways in 40 countries and territories.” Possibly the reason why so many colleges and universities have wedded themselves to UW could very well be that contributions to this single organization assist many worthwhile groups, which themselves help large numbers of individuals in real need.
While I find the goals of UW extremely laudable, I also find myself torn for a number of reasons with critical questions and deep concerns over our university’s consistent and continuing support and focus on this organization.
Firstly, by concentrating our charitable fundraising efforts solely or primarily on UW, other equally deserving organizations are ultimately restricted in the donations they receive. As the rationale goes, “Well, I have a limited amount that I can donate annually to charitable organizations, and I’ve already given this year to the United Way, so I can’t give to other groups.” A number of my family members have diabetes, and within the last three months alone, three of my close friends received a Stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis, and I am concentrating my efforts on raising funds for cancer and diabetes research and treatment. That has been my own personal decision.
Secondly, the other main concern I have is that UW distributes some of its donations to the Boy Scouts of America, an organization that has this year reaffirmed its longstanding policy of rejecting gay, bisexual, transgender scouts (youth members), and scouters (adult leaders).
According to their past position on homosexuality: “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed….” While no one is advocating same-sex sexual conduct between scouts or between scout leaders and scouts, their position statement confuses conduct with identity since the organization rejects membership also in terms of one’s identity. In addition, no atheist or agnostic need apply either since the Boy Scouts of America “Anthem” proclaims that “The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God….The recognition of God as the ruling and leading power in the universe and the grateful acknowledgment of His favors and blessings are necessary to the best type of citizenship and are wholesome precepts in the education of the growing members.”
In June of 2010, the Chief Scout Executive and national president, Bob Mazzuca, convened a special eleven-member committee to evaluate the “anti-homosexual” policy for the purpose of determining whether it was in the best interests of the organization. The committee recommended that the policy continue. It concluded that the policy reflects the beliefs and perspectives of BSA membership. Mazzuca announced in a written statement on July 17, 2012 that “The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation with their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting. While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”
No one is disputing parents’ and guardians’ “right to address issues of same-sex orientation with their family [and] with spiritual advisers.” Allowing gay, bisexual, and transgender scouts and leaders in the organization does not infringe on parents’ and guardians’ rights and abilities to discuss issues. In addition, since the organization comprises an estimated 2.7 million youth ages 7 to 21 plus another million volunteers in local councils throughout the U.S., I question whether BSA leadership actually undertook a scientifically valid and reliable poll of its full membership. Instead, eleven members of this “special committee” met secretly behind closed doors.