The executive committee of the Irving-based Boy Scouts of America has unanimously approved a resolution that would end the organization's blanket ban on gay adult leaders and let individual scout units set their own policy on the long-divisive issue.
In a statement Monday, the BSA said the resolution was approved by the executive committee on Friday, and would become official policy if ratified by the organization's larger National Executive Board at a meeting on July 27.
The committee action follows an emphatic speech in May by the BSA's president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, declaring that the longstanding ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable.
In 2013, after bitter internal debate, the BSA decided to allow openly gay youth as scouts, but not gay adults as leaders.
Ending the ban on adult gay leaders "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 Boy Scouts said on its website. "This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own. The 2013 youth membership policy will not be affected and remains unchanged."
In May 2014, Gates told KERA he didn't plan on pursuing an end to the ban on gay adult leaders because it would be "divisive." But he said earlier this year that "events during the past year have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore."
"We cannot ignore growing internal challenges to our current membership policy," Gates said earlier this year. "Nor can we ignore the social, political and juridicial changes taking place in our country – changes taking place at a pace over this past year no one anticipated."