Oct. 11 (UPI) -- The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday it will open up some of its programs for girls, including the opportunity for them to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout.
The Scouts board of directors voted unanimously to allow girls to join the Cub Scouts, a program for children in the first to fifth grades.
The organization said it also plans "to deliver a scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout."
The BSA said it received requests from families and girls to join the Scouts for years. Officials say it will be detailed in 2018, and is expected to begin accepting girls in 2019.
"This decision is true to the BSA's mission and core values outlined in the Scout oath and law. The values of scouting -- trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example -- are important for both young men and women," said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA's chief scout executive. "We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children."
The BSA said girls can begin signing up for the Cub Scouts next year. Existing packs may establish an exclusive girl pack, a pack that has both boy dens and girl dens, or remain an all-boy pack.
Wednesday's historic announcement came on International Day of the Girl, a worldwide movement focused on fighting for gender justice and youth rights.