The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that girls will soon be allowed to become Cub Scouts and to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest honor.

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

The scouting board of directors voted unanimously to make the historic change in an organization that has been primarily for boys since its founding more than 100 years ago.

Starting next year, young girls can join Cub Scout units, known as dens. Local scouting organizations can choose to have dens for girls and dens for boys. “Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls,” the organization said in a statement.

A separate program for older girls will be available in 2019, BSA said, enabling them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

The Boy Scouts said the moves reflect the changing nature of American life, adding to the appeal of a scouting program that can serve the entire family.

BSA said it commissioned two nationwide surveys that showed parents not involved in scouting had high interest in getting their daughters signed up for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.

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