LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Boy Scouts of America has decided to allow girls into its Cub Scout program, the organization announced Wednesday.

The decision – hailed as “historic” by the Irving, Texas-based Boy Scouts of America (BSA) – will allow girls into the iconic Cub Scout program and eventually offer older girls a Scouting program in which they may earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

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Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, said the vote is the result of research efforts and input from members, leaders and parents to “understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.”

Starting in 2018, Cub Scout dens – which usually consist of a group of six to eight boys, within the pack, that meets several times a month between pack meetings – will be single-gender, either all boys or all girls.

Natalie Van Norman, a senior at Mira Costa high in Manhattan Beach, has been in the girl scouts since first grade.

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“If a girl wants to be in Boy Scouts, like, I would say power to her.”

A program for older girls projected to be available in 2019, will offer the Eagle Scout rank in what the BSA says is a “unique approach [which] allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.”

The Girl Scouts organization has spoken out against the initiative, saying it strains the century-old bond between the two groups.

“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 Surbaugh. “We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. 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.”

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