The organization, which has 2.7 million members, is "potentially discussing" doing away with its national policy after months of protest, including hundreds of angry Eagle Scouts renouncing their hard-earned awards and mailing back their red-white-and-blue medals.
Many parents of Scouts across America found the national policy excluding gays confusing -- and at odds with basic scouting ideals.
Social media were abuzz with outrage over the policy; gay men who used to be Scouts spoke out in first-person blogs. On her TV talk show, Ellen DeGeneres featured a California Scout who had been denied his Eagle rank because he is gay.
Members of the organization's national board are expected to bring up the issue at a regularly scheduled biannual meeting in February. Any change would be announced after that.
In the Scouts' statement Monday, the group indicated that the national board may consider passing any decisions on gay membership to the local level. Each troop's charter organization would be able to decide "consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs."
"The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue," the statement said.
The statement itself is remarkable. Some members will see the fact that Scouting's national leadership is even discussing a policy change as a softening of its stance on gays and lesbians.
But some Scouts and Scout parents say that passing the decision to the local level will have little effect on the ground, because many troops have been ignoring the national policy anyway.
Image: Boy Scout, via Shutterstock