A few years ago, Thomas Harrington was a local and national executive for the Boy Scouts of America and tasked with enforcing the group's ban on gay scoutsand leaders. After working within the organization to lift the ban, Harrington now has been announced as the new executive director of Valley Youth House, a nonprofit organization that works with LGBT youth.
Harrington served as the CEO of the Philadelphia Cradle of Liberty Council before moving on to become Western Region director for the national organization. During his tenure with the local council, Philadelphia attempted to evict it from city-owned property over the discriminatory policy.
"We never discriminated," Harrington told Philadelphia daily The Inquirer. "Anybody that knew the leadership of the Cradle of Liberty Council would know they were national advocates for changing the Boy Scout policy."
Harrington added that he worked behind the scenes during his time with the national organization to lift the ban. Gay youth were officially allowed to participate in 2014, and the Boy Scouts of America lifted the ban on gay scout leaders earlier this year.
"The national policy was the national policy," he said. "There were many people who wanted to change it."
"I know Tom personally did not agree with that policy, and he worked within the organization to change it," Lesley Fallon, chair of the Valley Youth House board of directors, told the newspaper. "I understand the concerns, because it is so important to us support the LGBT youth. I have no question where Tom stands as a person, and where he has put his influence with the Boy Scouts or now with Valley Youth House."
"We knew there were going to be questions, but we knew Tom was the right person to run the organization," she said. "I'm very comfortable that Tom's personal views are in line with ours."
Valley Youth House operates several programs to help homeless and abused youths. The organization has an annual budget of approximately $20 million.