Starting next year, little girls will be able to join the Boy Scouts of America and work all the way up to the rank of Eagle Scout, the organization announced Wednesday.
“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 scout executive of the Boy Scouts.
Under the new guidelines, local Scouting organizations can choose to have dens for girls and dens for boys, but not for both. “Cub Scout dens will be single-gender—all boys or all girls,” the organization said in a statement.
NBC News reports that girls are already part of four Scouting programs in the Boy Scouts but are not able to enter as Cubs and attain the rank of Eagle Scout. They will be able to join as Cub Scouts in 2018 and join a program to become Eagle Scouts the following year.
Earlier this year, the National Organization for Women spoke out in support of a teen girl who wanted to attain the Eagle Scout rank like her brother, according to NBC News.
“I just want to do what the Boy Scouts do—earn the merit badges and earn the Eagle Award,” New York teenager Sydney Ireland 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.”
The Girl Scouts of the USA is reportedly meh on the news and has pointed to research showing that many girls learn best in an all-female environment.
No word on whether the Boy Scouts’ name will change.
Read more at NBC News.