Boy Scouts of America to Allow Girls to Join the Ranks

The Boy Scouts of America is announcing a plan to allow girls to become Cub Scouts and earn the rank of Eagle Scout, which is the organization's highest honor.

"We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children," said Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts.

For more than 100 years, the organization has been primarily for boys. However, the scouting board of directors voted unanimously to make the historic change.

Starting next year, girls will be able to join Cub Scout units, which are known as dens.

"Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls," the organization said in a statement.

In 2019, a separate program for older girls will be available which will enable them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, according to NBC News.

The BSA said that the decision was a reflection of the changing nature of American life. The organization also conducted two nationwide surveys that showed parents of girls not involved in scouting would have high interest in signing up their daughters for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

The National Organization for Women was one institution that urged the Boy Scouts to admit girls to the entire program. Their efforts were in support of a New York teen, Sydney Ireland, that hoped to attain the ranks of Eagle Scout like her older brother did.

"I just want to do what the Boy Scouts do — earn the merit badges and earn the Eagle Award," she told NBC News. "The Girl Scouts is a great organization, but it's just not the program that I want to be part of. I think girls should just have the opportunity to be a member of any organization they want regardless of gender."

As for the Girl Scouts, they have been cool to the idea of girls being admitted to the Boy Scouts. The organization cited research that shows many girls learn better in an all-female environment.

Photo Credit: Instagram / @GirlScouts