The Boys Scouts of America Board of Directors has voted unanimously in favor of allowing girls to join the organization.
The organization says it will start allowing girls to join the Cub Scouts, while also creating a special scouting program for girls who are too old to join the Cub Scouts. Girls will be given the full opportunity to rise all the way up the ranks to become Eagle Scouts.
The board noted that all Cub Scout dens “will be single-gender — all boys or all girls,” however.
“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, in explaining the board’s decision.
Sydney Ireland, a New York teenager who has long pushed for the rights of girls to join the Scouts, tells NBC News that she is very happy with the board’s decision.
“I just want to do what the Boy Scouts do — earn the merit badges and earn the Eagle Award,” she says. “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.”