The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) on Monday announced it's considering ending its ban on gay scouts and leaders.

Deron Smith, national spokesman for the BSA, said in a statement that the national board could vote to end the policy as early as next week.

“Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve,” Smith said. “Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.”

“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs,” he added.

Gay rights groups welcomed the possible change but added that they would rather see a consistent national policy.

“We would much rather that the Boy Scouts have adopted a national nondiscrimination policy, but this is definitely a step in that right direction,” Fred Sainz, vice president for communications for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), told CNN.

An estimated 70 percent of Scout troops are affiliated with a church or religious group.