The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that it will soon allow girls to join the organization, NBC News justice correspondent Pete Williams reported.
"For the first time in its more than 100-year history, the Boy Scouts have decided to admit girls into scouting, into both cub scouts and scouting, and allow girls to achieve the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, which is scouting's highest honor," Williams said on MSNBC.
Williams said that he was told the Boy Scouts' board of directors made the decision with a unanimous vote to implement a two-pronged plan.
The organization will first allow younger girls to become Cub Scouts starting next year, but the units will be either all female or all male.
"Cub Scout dens will be single-gender—all boys or all girls," the organization said in a statement.
A separate program will begin in 2019 to allow girls to go for the rank of Eagle Scout, the organization's highest honor.
"The reason for this, scouting says, is simply the change in American life," Williams reported. "The [chief executive of the Boy Scouts], Michael Surbaugh, says, and this is a quote, ‘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 Boy Scouts has commissioned two national surveys, which found that "parents not involved in scouting had high interest in getting their daughters signed up for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts," Williams reported.
Although there has been controversy over allowing both genders into the Boy Scouts, which traditionally trains young boys to become young men, scouting organizations say the same values that exist in the Scout Oath remain truth to both boys and girls.
MSNBC host Craig Melvin asked Williams if these new changes will affect the Girl Scouts after they are implemented.
Williams said that he has not yet heard directly from the Girl Scouts, but noted the organization has historically been cool to the idea of allowing girls into the Boy Scouts.
"This may not be the answer for everybody," Williams said. "Some girls will still go into a program that is an all-girl organization, led by girls, programmed by girls, because the Girl Scouts say some girls just do better in that environment. Just as the argument has historically been made that some young women do better in all-girl colleges and universities."
The Big Scouts' announcement on Wednesday came more than two years after the organization changed its policy to allow gay adults to serve as Scout leaders.