Boys Scouts of America announce a historic change

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After more than a hundred years, the Boy Scouts of America announced a historic change – starting next year you no longer have to be a boy to be a boy scout.

On Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic cub scout program among other changes. A major decision sparking mixed reaction around Mobile.

“After reading the news, I just felt that it wasn't right,” Longtime former scout Toney Coley said.

“I think it's monumental,” Local Troop Master Walter Bracewell said, adding “I think it’s a good open-minded approach.”

Bracewell says the change is needed to provide more options for families.

Under the new plan, Cub Scout dens, the smallest unit will be single-gender, either all-boys or all-girls. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to remain single gender or welcome both genders.

There's also plans to establish a new scouting program for older girls that will allow them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

“I think there are certain areas where we need to keep the boys and girls apart,” Coley said.

Coley told NBC 15 he fears that these changes will interfere with important lessons he learned through the organization as a scout himself.

“I feel in order to teach them how to honor a woman it needs to be in a group of boys so they can actually get the feeling of boys.”

“These boys and girls are going to have to learn together in school as well as in the work place in the future, so it's a good foundation,” Bracewell said.

The announcement follows many months of outreach by the Boy scouts of America, which conducted surveys and held meetings to discuss the possibility expanding girls' participation beyond existing programs, such as Venturing, Exploring and Sea Scouts that already include girls.

While this is arguably the biggest change, this isn’t the first major decision made by Boy Scouts of America. In the past five years, the organization decided to also accept openly youth members and adult volunteers, as well as transgender boys.