After months of deliberations over the topic of its much-despised ban on gay and lesbian members, the Boy Scouts of America are finally preparing to end the longstanding policy.

Striking down the ban still requires ratification by the organization's National Council, but once approved, spokesman Deron Smith said "no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

The Associated Press notes that the proposal will only apply to youth members; gay adult troop leaders will remain banned.

Smith said three months of research had led the BSA to conclude that an option to allow local troops to decide for themselves whether to admit homosexual members would not be sufficient.

The Council's 1,400 members are scheduled to vote on the proposal during their next meeting on May 20th.

UPDATE: GLAAD Vice President of Communications Rich Ferraro has just released the following statement concerning the BSA's proposal:

Yet again, the Boy Scouts of America has failed its members, corporate sponsors, donors and the millions of Americans who agree that the time to end discrimination in Scouting is now. By refusing to consider an end to its ban on gay and lesbian parents, the Boy Scouts have missed an opportunity to exercise leadership and usher the organization back to relevancy. We're living in a culture where, until every young person and parent have the same opportunity to serve, the Boy Scouts will continue to see a decline in both membership and donations.

[photo via AP]