National spokesman Deron Smith told The Associated Press that an 11-member special committee determined that the policy was "absolutely the best policy for the Boys Scouts."
The committee was formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010 and was comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers. The committee's unanimous decision preserves a long-standing policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and has remained controversial ever since.
"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," Scouts' chief executive Bob Mazzuca said.
The policy applies to both leaders and Scouts.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. gay-rights group, depicted the Scouts' decision as "a missed opportunity of colossal proportions."
"With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued," he said. "They've chosen to teach division and intolerance."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.