"On Monday July 27 the national executive board ratified a resolution removing the national restriction on openly gay leaders and employees," Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates said in a video statement on Monday.
The move has been in the works for weeks. This month, the organization's executive committee adopted a resolution that would change the policy.
"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 Boy Scouts said in a statement July 13.
"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," it read.
LGBT advocacy groups have said the change doesn't go far enough.
"Today's vote by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay, lesbian and bisexual adults to work and volunteer is a welcome step toward erasing a stain on this important organization," said Human Rrights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement. "But including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today's decision. Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period."
Some religious groups, on the other hand, say the decision goes too far.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement
that the organization is "re-evaluating" its relationship with the Scouts.
"The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation," the statement reads in part. "However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America."
Gates called for the Scouts to end its ban on gay adults in remarks (PDF)
at the organization's national business meeting, held May 21.
"The status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained," Gates said. "Our oath calls upon us to do our duty to God and our country. The country is changing, and we are increasingly at odds with the legal landscape at both the state and federal levels."
He said decisions on the Boy Scouts' policy could also be dictated by the courts, and it would be better "to seize control of our own future."
However, former Boy Scout leadership team member Jon Langbert told CNN's Carol Costello he believes the new policy isn't a cure-all, since local troops will still be allowed to make the decision on whether to allow gay leaders.
"What does that do to folks like me?" asked Langbert, who is openly gay and says he gave up his leadership role when other fathers complained
. "If I want to participate with my son, do I now have to start ringing up on the phone and calling around to different troops and saying, 'Do you guys discriminate, or am I a first-class citizen in your troop and I can join?' "
Many troops are sponsored by churches and religious organizations, which abide by the guidelines of their affiliation.
"It creates a bit of a mess when you don't have one global policy for the Scouts," Langbert added, noting that the national organization allows gay adults as employees. "When you have one branch of an organization doing one thing and another doing another, it creates a lot of stress for folks like me, and I don't think it's sending the right message to the boys, either."
Gay youths have been allowed in the Boy Scouts since 2013.
"For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us," Gates said. "Now it's time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of scouting to be a force for good in the community and in the lives of its youth members."