Based on the unified theory of coherence and polarization and the extended Huygens-Fresnel integral the free-space evolution of the recently introduced spectral degree of cross-polarization of a stochastic electromagnetic beam is studied. Unlike the spectral degree of coherence, the degree of cross-polarization is unbounded and exhibits non-monotonic changes with growing propagation distance and growing radial distance from the center of the beam, at fixed transverse cross-sections. Our numerical results pertain to the electromagnetic Gaussian Schell-model beams. We derive expressions for the cross-spectral density matrix of the EGSM beam for arbitrary transverse and longitudinal positions. The results show that the behavior of the degree of cross-polarization on propagation is determined by all of the parameters of the source radiating the beam. At sufficiently large distances from the source, the degree of cross-polarization stabilizes for all points within the beam independently of their radial positions.