The Boy Scouts of America's National Council has voted to ease a long-standing ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted as Scouts.
Of the local Scout leaders voting at their annual meeting in Texas, more than 60 percent supported the proposal.
Under the proposal drafted by the Scouts' governing board, gay adults will remain barred from serving as Scout leaders.
The outcome is unlikely to end a bitter debate over the Scouts' membership policy.
Some conservative churches that sponsor Scout units wanted to continue excluding gay youths, in some cases threatening to defect if the ban were lifted. More liberal Scout leaders - while supporting the proposal to accept gay youth - have made clear they want the ban on gay adults lifted as well.
After the vote, the Mormon church said it would continue its long-time association with the BSA. The church has more Scouting troops than any other religious denomination in the country.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted a statement on its website Thursday saying sexual orientation has never been, and is not now, something that precludes young boys from being in Mormon scout troops.
As long as youth refrain from pre-marital sex, a strict church rule, they can participate in Boy Scouts.
The Salt Lake City-based church announced last month it was satisfied with this proposed rule change. On Thursday, officials said they appreciate the Boy Scouts of America reaffirming its commitment the same central principles the church teaches young men.