After 119 years, the Boy Scouts of America just made a major change.
As of today, the organization has been renamed “Scouts BSA” to mark a historic rule change. From now on, both boys and girls between 11 and 17 are eligible to join the national scouting group.
From now on, girls can also become Eagle Scouts, the highest and most prestigious rank in scouting which was previously limited to boys only.
The group first announced they would be welcoming girls in 2017. Under the new policy, boys and girls will still be divided into separate troops.
Cub Scouts, the BSA’s group for young children, began welcoming girls last year. Since then, more than 770,000 girls have joined the program’s ranks.
Cub Scouts will not change its name.
The program’s Chief Scout Executive, Michael B. Surbaugh, said in a statement that he “could not be more excited for what this means for the next generation of leaders in our nation.”
“Through Scouts BSA, more young people than ever before – young women and men – will get to experience the benefits of camaraderie, confidence, resilience, trustworthiness, courage and kindness through a time-tested program that has been proven to build character and leadership.”
While parents will get to decide about which organization their children join, the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) didn’t exactly welcome the change in a statement (which didn’t mention Boy Scouts by name).
The group said that the “benefit of the single-gender environment has been well-documented by educators, scholars, other girl- and youth-serving organizations, and Girl Scouts and their families.”
Last year, GSUSA sued BSA over the name change, alleging that the group as infringing on their trademark. GSUSA says they have no plans to change their policy to only admit girls.
The first ever class of Eagle Scouts with both boys and girls will be recognized in 2020.