All quiet at Scout offices after gay membership vote

By Joe Beck

The decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay boys to join its ranks had generated little feedback from the public at the local Scout offices as of Friday morning.

“The phones have been extremely quiet,” said Mark Pennington, assistant executive for the Boy Scouts’ Shenandoah Area Council headquartered in Winchester. “There’s been no feedback really to speak of.

“It’s a national policy change, and as a council, we have received hardly any comments from our membership.”

The national decision to allow gay members came on a vote by about 1,400 delegates attending a convention in Grapevine, Texas. The Scouts voted to retain a ban on openly gay and lesbian adults as troop leaders.

Stuart Williams, the Shenandoah Area Council’s CEO, was among those attending the convention but was not a voting delegate, Pennington said.

Williams issued a written statement calling the decision “an end to the waiting game and debate on both sides.”

“I know that some local volunteers and families may disagree with the outcome, but I do know we have some of the strongest and most dedicated supporters a not-for-profit could ever hope for and that they will all continue to conduct themselves in an honorable way and focusing on what matters most – that is providing a quality program in a safe environment for our children.”

Williams said he would continue to work “with pride” for the council and insist that the new policy on gay members is followed. He also praised the resolution for its focus on morality and “duty to God.”

“Quite frankly, any sexual conduct, heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of scouting age will be considered inappropriate behavior and not allowed,” Williams wrote.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com