WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) -- The Boy Scouts of America will decide in the coming days on a policy change that would allow openly gay leaders, dismantling the organization's decades-old blanket ban on gay adult leaders and volunteers.
The policy change, approved by the Scouts' national executive committee, would put an end to the organization's official ban on gay Scout leaders, but stops short of requiring all Scout groups to allow gay leaders. Instead the new policy would leave it up to individual troops, packs and units to determine who is fit to serve. On July 27, the 80-person National Executive Board will review the executive committee's resolution to make a final decision.
"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," the organization's executive committee said in a written statement. "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. This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own."
Earlier this year at the Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting, President Robert Gates told the membership the longstanding ban on openly gay leaders could not be sustained due to the changing tide of the legal and social landscape across the United States.
A spokeswoman for Walker's campaign later said, "The previous policy protected Scouts from the rancorous political debate over policy issues and culture wars. Scouts should not be used as a political football on issues that can often be heated and divisive."
In April, a New York City Boy Scout affiliate hired an openly gay summer camp leader, in direct defiance of the national ban.
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and the executive director of Scouts for Equality, said the proposed change would end "a towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia in one of America's most important and recognizable civic organizations."
In January 2014, the Boy Scouts changed its policy to allow openly gay youths to join the organization.