After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its membership policy, which excludes gays from both membership and leadership.
The Scouts cited support from parents as a key reason for keeping the policy and expressed hope that the prolonged debate over it might now subside.
The Scouts' national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press that an 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, came to the conclusion that the exclusion policy "is absolutely the best policy" for the 112-year-old organization.
Smith said the committee, comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers, was unanimous in its conclusion - preserving a long-standing policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and has remained controversial ever since.
The Scouts' chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, contended that most Scout families support the policy, which applies to both adult leaders and Scouts.
"The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Mazzuca said. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."
The Boy Scouts' policy stands in contrast to that of Girl Scouts of the USA, which allows openly gay leaders.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.