Nikita Richardson
Updated July 14, 2015 6:50 am

In a landmark decision for one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious youth organizations, the leadership for the Boy Scouts of America is finally taking a stand against homophobia and working to allow gay men and women to serve as scout leaders in the organization.

Yesterday, the BSA’s executive committee announced that a resolution was approved last week that would end the organization’s longstanding ban on homosexual scout leaders.

The official non-discrimination policy :

This is a major step forward for the Boy Scouts. In 2013, the 105-year-old organization—which boasts 2.6 million youth members and 1 million adults—lifted its ban barring gay scouts, but failed to extend the same acceptance to gay scout leaders, with leadership saying at the time that “a change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place.”

Meanwhile, the Girl Scouts of America have long been more progressive than their male counterparts, never explicitly banning gay and lesbian troop leaders and accepting transgender members since at least 2011. In fact, the Girl Scouts of Western Washington recently turned down a $100,000 donation when the anonymous donor stated that the money could not be used to support transgender girls. So the group launched an IndieGogo campaign, which, as of today, has raised $332,712 with 16 days left to go.

It marks a sea change in the support of gay and transgender rights—including the landmark legislation that legalized gay marriage last month—and the BSA finally seems ready to catch up with the rest of American society. It also helped that former U.S. Defense Secretary and current BSA president Robert Gates took the organization to task, saying in May 2015 that the organization needed to change its policy or further risk its reputation.

“I must speak as plainly and bluntly to you as I spoke to presidents when I was director of the CIA and secretary of defense,” said President Gates. “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.”

With his message heard loud and clear by the executive committee, the resolution now goes to the Boy Scouts’ governing body, the National Executive Board, which will meet on July 27 to potentially ratify the new policy. If the resolution passes, gay and lesbian individuals will be allowed to apply to serve as scout leaders. It’s about time.

[Image via iStock]