The nation's oldest boys club will soon be co-ed. In a historic shift, Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that it will begin allowing girls into some of its programs next year.
The organization said years of requests from families and girls prompted its unanimous decision, which it hopes will help promote female leaders.
"This decision is true to the BSA's mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law," chief executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement. "The values of scouting—trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example—are important for both young men and women."
The organization said younger girls can join the Cub Scouts program starting in 2018, but packs will choose whether to remain "all-boy." A new program for older girls will allow them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
Girl Scouts of the USA has not yet released a statement, but leadership showed hesitation when the Boy Scouts floated the co-ed concept earlier this year.
A spokesperson for Girl Scouts told BuzzFeed in August, "It's a potentially dangerous and bad idea," and the organization's president accused Boy Scout leadership of covertly recruiting girls into its program.
"It is therefore unsettling that BSA would seek to upend a paradigm that has served both boys and girls so well through the years by moving forward with a plan that would result in fundamentally undercutting the Girl Scouts of the USA," Girl Scouts president Kathy Hopinkah Hannan wrote in a letter obtained by BuzzFeed.