The Boy Scouts say they will now admit girls. Here’s what that means.

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from PBS Newshour,

The Boy Scouts board of directors said Wednesday it would open some of its programs to girls, including the path to the prestigious title of Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest rank.

The change marks a major shift for the century-old establishment. The Boy Scouts of America said its decision is an important evolution in how it meet the needs of families and their children, but the move has previously sparked criticism from the female-focused Girl Scouts of the USA.

Here’s what we know about the decision — and what it means for scouting.

The new plan: Starting next year, the Boy Scouts will create separate boys and girls Cub Scout dens, its smallest unit. Those dens can be combined to create Cub Scout packs. Older girls may enter a new program as early as 2019 which will qualify them for the Eagle Scout rank.

Why the policy changed: The Boy Scouts of America said it made the decision based on months of research and information from girls, parents and members of the institution.

“The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” said Boy Scouts chief scout executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement. “We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”

The organization has faced criticism for years on its positions on sexual orientation and gender (as chronicled here by the Los Angeles Times). Today’s announcement comes on the heels of the Boy Scouts’ decision in January to allow transgender participants. The group ended its controversial ban on openly gay scouts in 2013 and on gay Boy Scout leaders in 2015.

What about the Girl Scouts? Both the Boy and Girl Scouts emerged out of World War I and have historically maintained a close relationship. But, in August, a letter was made public in which the president of the Girls Scouts accused the Boy Scouts of a “covert campaign to recruit girls” and undercut Girl Scout participants.

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