WASHINGTON, July 27 (UPI) -- The Boy Scouts of America on Monday will end its ban on gay leadership within the organization, but some groups will not be forced to accept election of gay leaders.
The policy change was previously approved by the Scouts' national executive committee and will 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 -- allowing some troops, such as ones led by churches, to "select local units... with similar beliefs."
"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."
Boy Scouts membership has declined steadily in the past decade. The group saw a 7.4 percent drop in membership in 2014 after the organization's decision to allow gay youth in 2013.
Earlier this year at the Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting, President Robert Gates, who was also a U.S. Defense Secretary, told members 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.
"We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained," Gates told scout leaders.
In January 2014, the Boy Scouts changed its policy to allow openly gay youths to join the organization. In April, a New York City Boy Scout affiliate hired an openly gay summer camp leader, in direct defiance of the national ban.
Amy R. Connolly contributed to this report.