In a historic change, the Boy Scouts are announcing plans to admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and to establish a new program for older girls using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts, the AP reports. Under the plan announced Wednesday, Cub Scout dens—the smallest unit—will be single-gender, either all-boys or all-girls. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to welcome both genders if they choose. The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
Boy Scout leaders say the change is needed to provide more options for parents. "The values of Scouting—trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example—are important for both young men and women," says Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, in a statement. The Girl Scouts organization has criticized the initiative, saying it strains the century-old bond between the two groups. Early reaction on Twitter was mixed: "Dear @boyscouts you should call the @NFL and get some advice on how America is going to receive your news," suggested the Conservative Review.