The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday it will soon allow girls to join its Cub Scouts program and will develop a new program for older girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
"This decision is true to BSA's mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women," Michael Surbaugh, CEO of the Boy Scouts, said in a statement.
"We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders," he continued.
The Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously voted to allow girls to join the Cub Scout program. The organization also said it plans to establish a new program for older girls that will "enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout."
Beginning next year, both boys and girls will be able to sign up for the Cub Scouts program, the 100-plus-year-old organization said. The program for older girls that will allow them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout will be available starting in 2019.
Cub Scout packs can welcome children of both genders, but the organization said smaller units, or dens, will be either all boys or all girls.
Boy Scouts of America said the decision to begin admitting girls is, in part, to address the needs of families that are "busier and more diverse than ever," and to reach underserved communities.
"The BSA's record of producing leaders with high character and integrity is amazing," Randall Stephenson, the organization's national board chairman, said. "I've seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization. It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls."
Girls can currently participate in several scouting programs, and the group said co-ed programs have been offered since 1971.