Cub Scout dens, which are smaller units of six to eight kids within packs, will remain single-gender.
The Boy Scouts of America board unanimously agreed to allow girls into the organization and to develop a program that will enable them to achieve the highest and most prestigious rank of Eagle Scout. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. It hopes to have the program in place in 2019.
The company cited studies showing that cultural and economic factors made programs that could serve both boys and girls more appealing to modern families.
"This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today's families", the BSA said in a statement. "Additionally, many groups now underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family", said the release.
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.
"This decision is true to the BSA's mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law", said BSA's Cheif Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh. And deliberations about opening its membership to girls drew a heated letter from the Girl Scouts of America, which has also seen its membership decline in recent years. "The Girl Scouts is a great organization, but it's just not the program that I want to be part of". That didn't sit well with the Girl Scouts of the US, whose leadership accused the Boy Scouts of running a "covert campaign to recruit girls".
A BSA statement the decision to include girls comes after years of requests from parents, after researching the issue, and after gathering input form current BSU members and leaders.
The announcement about welcoming girls came on the International Day of the Girl, which the United Nations says, "aims to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights".