The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that it would allow girls to join its clubs at various levels.
“This decision is true to the 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,” said Michael Surbaugh, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Chief Scout Executive in a statement posted on the organizations website.
Starting in 2018, girls will be able to join Cub Scouts - the organization's groups for younger participants. These clubs will be single gender - either all boys or all girls. Older girls will also have options to advance to the highest rank of Eagle Scout, and packs will be given the option to admit girls to their groups.
"Although known for its iconic programs for boys, the BSA has offered co-ed programs since 1971 through Exploring and the Venturing program, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018," the statement said.
The announcement follows months of outreach by the Boy Scouts of America and discussion within the organization.
Sister organization Girl Scouts of America had criticized the outreach in August, fearing that the new model would poach recruits from the female-only group. Both groups have seen a decline in membership in recent years.
Unlike the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts have maintained girls-only status for all their programs; the empowerment of girls is at the core of their mission.
In February, the 107-year-old Boy Scouts organization announced it would admit transgender children in its scouting programs.