Robert Gates, the new president of the Boy Scouts of America, says he would have moved further than the youth organization last year and admitted openly gay adults.
But he won't support any attempts now to change the policy.
Gates took the helm this week of a group that serves about 2.5 million youth nationwide but faces continued membership declines and fights over its inclusion of openly gay boys, but not adults.
He told The Associated Press Friday that he "was prepared to go further than the decision that was made," but respects it and won't try to change it.
He says moving further now would ignite a debate that could threaten Scouting's existence.
The 70-year-old Gates was secretary of defense under two presidents and CIA director.