Since 1911, boys who have joined the Boy Scouts of America have taken this vow: “On my honor, I promise to do my duty to God and my country; to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

On Friday, the youth organization acknowledged — sort of — that one’s sexual orientation is irrelevant to being morally straight.

The Boy Scouts of America has proposed to end the mandatory exclusion of gay Scouts, but it has decided to continue to bar gay adults from serving as troop leaders.

Though any progress is welcome, this proposal represents a compromise that ultimately will prove unworkable. When the Scouts’ National Council meets next month, we hope that it will fall into step with the rest of society by crafting and approving a resolution that unconditionally welcomes the contributions of both gay Scouts and leaders.

The controversy about the Scouts’ policy about gays came to a head last July, when the Boy Scouts of America upheld its policy of excluding gays. The group cited support from parents and the possibility that openly gay Scouts or leaders “would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

In January, a proposal to allow individual Cub packs or Scout troops to set their own membership policies was floated, but the national organization put off a decision until the National Council meeting the week of May 20.

Now the executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America has proposed a partial about-face that likely will please few people.

Conservatives won’t be satisfied with any move to lift the Scouts’ “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays. Gay rights groups, meanwhile, rightly believe that by allowing gay boys to be Scouts but kicking them out once they turn 18, the organization tacitly endorses the idea that being gay is immoral.

Lifting the ban on gay boys in Scouting accords with the anti-discriminatory policies adopted by other major youth organizations, such as Camp Fire USA, 4-H, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Girl Scouts of the USA.

These groups have realized that when they honor the increasing diversity of society, both the organization and young people benefit. “We’re proud of our inclusive approach because that is what has always made this organization strong,” Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Anna Maria Chavez told The Associated Press last summer.

By continuing to exclude gay adult leaders, however, Boy Scouts of America lends credence to ugly and long-discredited myths about gay adults.

Multiple court cases have alleged sexual abuse of Scouts by Scout leaders. Boy Scouts of America files dating from the 1960s to 1991 detail numerous instances in which Boy Scout officials never reported abuse claims and sometimes sought to protect the accused.

Sexual abuse, however, is the act of a predator, not of a mentally healthy adult, straight or gay. The best way to help keep predators out of a youth-oriented organization is to better screen and train youth leaders.

The Boy Scouts of America knows this. As part of a thorough review of its policy about gays, the organization consulted experts in child sexual abuse prevention, and those experts concluded: “The nearly universal opinion among sexual abuse authorities is that same-sex sexual interest or same-sex sexual experience, either in adults or youth, is NOT a risk factor for sexually abusing children.”

Boy Scouts of America has made progress toward becoming more diverse, but it hasn’t gone far enough. Its proposed changes unfairly shy away from full acceptance of both gay Scouts and leaders. Other institutions have opened their doors to gays fully; it’s time for Boy Scouts of America to do the same.

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