The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday it will allow girls to join Cub Scouts and earn the rank of Eagle Scout, its highest honor.
The scouting board of directors voted unanimously to make the change but girls have already been part of four scouting programs.
The change will start next year as young girls will be able to join cub scout units. Those units will be single-gender, either all boys or all girls.
A separate program for older girls will be available in 2019 for them to earn the eagle scout rank.
Several girls in East Tennessee are already part of the Sea Scouts, a boy scout program focused on sailing and learning the sport.
George Hubbell, the chairman of the local sea scouts, said this move will only open doors for more people to learn what it means to be a scout in all aspects.
"If you are going to open a program, then you should open it all the way," Hubbell said.
Hubbell added that girls are some of the best sailors he's seen in the program.
He said the change will give young women the chance to earn their ranks.
"We are coed. We've been coed the entire time I've been involved and some of our better sailors are women and that's good. It's a sport they can carry through life," Hubbell said.
Scout Executive for the Great Smoky Mountain Boy Scout Council, David Williams, said the change will allow for more opportunities.
"We have coed programs today. This is not a coed move, this is a move that allows us to maintain single gender programs but offer it to more families as families are faced with different time restrictions and they want what's best for their children. it just gives them another opportunity," Williams said.