Roy Williams, Chief Scout Executive says the BSA will not change its policy against gays unless
National leader of Scouts says group's future is bright Roy Williams says his organization will continue to thrive
controversial ban on gays
Sunday, September 10, 2000
By Janie Har of The Oregonian staff
The future of the Boy Scouts of America is brighter than ever, said Roy Williams, the nation's top Scouting executive,
during a visit to Oregon on Saturday.
"We're in the best shape financially we've ever been," Williams said. Nationwide, the organization's
320 councils have a total budget of "almost half a billion dollars."
Williams, who was in Oregon to lead the evening ceremony for "Scoutrageous 2000," responded to the controversy
surrounding the group ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that the Scouts could legally exclude gays.
That decision prompted a number of private companies, public agencies and a dozen United Way chapters nationwide
to pull, or to consider pulling, funding and other support from the Scouts.
In Oregon, a group of board members of the United Way of the Columbia-Willamette chapter are pushing for a new
anti-discrimination policy, which could end the chapter's donations to the Scouts. The chapter contributed $252,000
this year to the Cascade Pacific Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Williams said he doesn't know much about the local United Way debate. But he said the issue of banning gays from
Scouts is not new. The Boy Scouts of America has been defending the ban for 20 years, he said. And in that time,
the Scouts have continued to thrive.
The group has attracted 100,000 new recruits each year for the past several years, Williams said.
Not that the controversy has been easy.
"Obviously, we're concerned when people call you names and things like that," said Williams, who became
chief executive June 1. "That's never pleasant. But I guess it comes with the territory when you take a stand
and have a set of values people can take a shot at."
The "single most important person" in this controversy is the parent, he said.
"They chose Scouting to help their children be better people, and when they start walking away from us, that's
the signal to tell us to revisit the issue," he said.
"I don't see that on the horizon."