The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) took a step another step towards equality on Monday, as the organization’s executive committee unanimously approved a resolution that would end its ban on gay scout leaders. In 2013, the Boy Scouts changed its longstanding policy and allowed gay scouts to participate, but a blanket ban on openly gay adult leaders of scout units is still in place.
Under the new proposed rules, individual scout troops would be allowed to make their own policy on whether gay adult leaders would be able to participate. The change appears to be a compromise with faith-based sponsors of Scout troops—the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, and the Southern Baptist Convention—that have been reluctant to endorse wholesale change on sexual orientation among scout leadership. “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 said in a statement. “This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.”
“Half measures are unacceptable and discriminatory exemptions have no place in the Boy Scouts,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the national LGBT-rights group, said in a statement. “It’s long overdue that BSA leaders demonstrate true leadership and embrace a full national policy of inclusion.”
“The committee action follows an emphatic speech in May by the organization’s president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, declaring that the long-standing ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable,” the Associated Press notes. “[Gates] and other BSA leaders said the ban was likely to be the target of lawsuits that the Scouts were apt to lose.”
The Boy Scouts’ National Executive Board will meet to ratify the change on July 27.