The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that girls will be allowed to join the organization.
According to NBC News, which broke the story, girls will be permitted to join single-gender Cub Scout "dens" beginning in the 2018 program year. Eventually, they will also be able to attain the rank of Eagle Scout — another program focused on older girls is projected to go into effect in 2019.
NBC’s Pete Williams just broke the news that the Boy Scouts have decided to accept female scouts.
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) October 11, 2017
"We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children," chief executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement. "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."
The change marks a big shift for Boy Scouts of America, which has been almost exclusively for boys since it was founded in 1910. (The organization has, however, offered several co-ed "Exploring" and "Venturing" programs since 1971.)
Boy Scouts of America has also been the subject of gender-related controversy. The organization did not allow gay scouts until 2013, for example, and maintained its ban on gay adult leaders, employees, and scoutmasters until 2015.
In 2016, an eight-year-old boy in New Jersey claimed he was kicked out of his troop for being transgender. After the incident, the organization told the AP that it did not allow transgender children into its Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs. It then reversed its policy days later.
Wednesday's decision, made by the organization's board of directors, was reportedly unanimous.