Boy Scouts of America announces it will allow girls to join

Image Kate Patterson  The Washington Post  Getty Images

"The values of Scouting - trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, fearless and reverent, for example - are important for both young men and women", Michael Surbaugh, the Boy Scouts' chief scout executive, said in a release.

Both boys and girls will be allowed to enroll in the program beginning in 2018, with already existing "packs" given the option to create a new female companion "pack".

As for older girls, the organization says it will announce a program next year that will enable them to earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

The Girl Scouts, founded in 1912, and the BSA, founded in 1910, are among several major youth organizations in the US experiencing sharp drops in membership in recent years.

According to the Boy Scouts of America website, three groups make up the organization: Cub Scouts, which is for children in first through fifth grades; Boy Scouts, which is for youth 11-17 years old and Venturing, which is a coed program for young adults ages 13 through 20.

Starting next year, young girls can join Cub Scout units, known as dens. But those programs have not offered a path to Eagle Scout for girls.

"The values of scouting - trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, courageous and reverent, for example - are important for both young men and women", Surbaugh said in a statement. The organization has moved to become more inclusive, after years of declining membership - announcing in 2013 that it would admit openly gay youths and ending a blanket ban on gay leaders in 2015.

The decision, made by the organization's board of directors, was reportedly unanimous. However, both the boy and girl dens will use the same curriculum. "Additionally, many groups now underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family", said the release.

"We were disappointed in the lack of transparency as we learned that you are surreptitiously testing the appeal of a girls' offering to millennial parents", Hannan wrote to Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson.

BSA at the time pushed back against such claims, explaining they'd always been discussing introducing girls into the program.

Earlier this year, the National Organization for Women encouraged the Boy Scouts to accept women, joining the efforts of NY teen Sydney Ireland in her bid to become an Eagle Scout.

"Strange, I thought that's what the Girl Scouts was for???" he said on Twitter.

Wonderful and timely news from @boyscouts on the #DayoftheGirl!

As The Two-Way reported in August, the Boy Scouts had for months been "exploring the benefits of bringing Scouting to every member of the family - boys and girls", according to spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos.

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