DALLAS (RNS/Reuters) — The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Executive Committee unanimously approved allowing gay adults to serve as leaders, officials said July 13, in a major step toward dismantling a policy that has caused deep rifts in the 105-year-old organization.
The group’s National Executive Board will meet to ratify the resolution — which includes exemptions for faith-based groups — on July 27, the Boy Scouts said in a statement.
“This resolution will allow chartered organizations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation, continuing Scouting’s longstanding policy of chartered organizations selecting their leaders,” it said.
The resolution approved by the Executive Committee follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June to allow same-sex marriage nationwide and a call in May from the Boy Scouts president, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said the ban on gay leadership needed to change.
The Boy Scouts said in the statement the move reflected “the rapid changes in society and increasing legal challenges at the federal, state and local levels.”
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the proposal also allows for faith-based groups sponsoring troops to continue the ban.
“This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families,” the BSA statement said. “This change would also respect the right of religious-chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.”
Membership in BSA has been steadily declining during the past decade, but the 2013 decision to allow gay youth contributed to a steeper drop of 7.4 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to organization figures.