The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced yesterday that it will begin allowing female participants into its Cub Scout programs via separate boys and girls “Cub Scout Dens”, with plans to admit girls into Boy Scout programs, and ultimately the Eagle Scout program, by 2019.

According a press release issued by the BSA, the decision comes after years of requests from individuals girls and their families.

“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 Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive.

“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.”

The effort to allow girls into the Boy Scouts was spearheaded by 16 year-old Sydney Ireland of New York. Sydney has been unofficially participating in the Boy Scouts since she was four and is well on her way to earning the Eagle Scout badge—which, until yesterday would have been unofficial as well.

“I cannot change my gender to fit the Boy Scouts’ standards, but the Boy Scouts can change their standards to include me,” wrote Sydney on a Change.org petition she crafted in an attempt to persuade the BSA to begin accepting female scouts. “I am determined to be an Eagle Scout. It isn’t just a hobby, it’s access to some of the best leadership training there is. According to the BSA, over half of all astronauts were involved in Scouting and 16.3% of West Point cadets are Eagle Scouts.”

The BSA is the largest youth leadership organization in the United States of America, with more than 2.4 million youth participants and nearly one million adult volunteers.