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Wednesday, the board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted unanimously to allow girls into the Boy Scouts at every level. Girls will now be able to join Cub Scouts or earn their way through the rankings to eventually achieve the highest honor the organization offers, the Eagle Scout badge.
“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,” Michael Surbaugh, the Chief Scout Executive said in a statement.
The BSA also claims the change is aimed at helping busy families “consolidate programs” for their children.
"Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before, making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing," the BSA statement said.
The New York Times reports that the group will start letting females in at the beginning of 2018. A separate program for older girls will be announced next year and is expected to start in 2019.
This decision comes after months of backlash and criticism from the President of Girl Scouts U.S.A for what she believed was a “covert campaign to recruit girls.”
“I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts,” Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, the president of the Girl Scouts, wrote in August 2017.
Earlier this year, the Boy Scouts announced a change to its membership requirements, allowing transgender boys to join the organization.
BSA has about 2.3 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21 and about 960,000 volunteers in the United States and its territories, according to CNN.