At long last, the Boy Scouts are living up to their professed ideals of fairness and respect by reconsidering a ban on gays. It's an overdue sign that the organization can square its beliefs with changing American views.
Last July, the Scouts stood by a longtime ban, covering both leaders and youths. It was a hurtful move that kicked out a lesbian mom as den leader in Ohio and barred an East Bay teen, Ryan Andresen of Moraga, from achieving Scouting's top rank of Eagle after he came out as gay.
The organization, which marked its 100th anniversary in 2010, might have thought that time could stand still and public awareness could be tamed. But corporate donors withdrew funds and board members rethought their stand.
Recently, President Barack Obama mentioned gays for the first time in an inaugural address.
The result is that the Scouts might be reconsidering their ill-chosen stand at an upcoming national board meeting. Instead of a top-down pronouncement on the topic, the decision will be left to local groups who sponsor Scouting units. In reality, that means that conservative church groups may still insist on shunning gays while community groups and other organizations can drop the shameful exclusion.
It's a partial step, but it's an unmistakable one in a country that no longer bars gays from the military and increasingly accepts gay rights.
Boy Scout Law asks youths to be friendly, courteous and kind, among other qualities. It's time to add tolerant and respectful to the list.
(This is a guest editorial from The San Francisco Chronicle.)
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.