Sydney Interivewed on NY 1 News - The BSA Stands Alone in Banning Young Women
Apr 16, 2018 — Stuyvesant Town resident Sydney Ireland knew she wanted to be part of the Boy Scouts of America from a young age.
"I've been an unofficial member of the cub scouts since I was 4 years old when my brother was a cub scout," Ireland recalled.
She says, initially, it was that family connection that made her want to join the organization that has been "boys only" for more than 100 years.
Her father, Gary, is also a former scoutmaster and current assistant scoutmaster — even the family dog is named Scout.
For Sydney, joining the Girl Scouts was never really something she ever considered.
"Eventually, Boy Scouts can achieve the Eagle rank, which is the highest award and that's a very prestigious honor. That can lead to job opportunities and scholarships in the future," Ireland noted.
So Sydney started working towards that goal. But around the age of 10 her father had to explain that all the effort she'd be putting in wouldn't officially be recognized by the BSA. In turn, her family began to pursue scouting opportunities outside the U.S. in countries where the scouts are already co-ed.
"We started with the South African scouts and she would skype with them and then finally we started with the Canadian Scouts and she's gotten their highest honor," Ireland said.
Meantime, Ireland has become her own advocate - speaking about the issue whenever possible. The 16-year-old's efforts have caught the attention of many - from the president of the National Organization for Women in New York City to the Prime Minister of Canada - where she's still an official member of a troop in London, Ontario. Here in the city, she recently received recognition for her work from her local City Council member, Keith Powers.
"The City of New York and the City Council wanted to recognize that work with a proclamation from the City Council," Powers said.
Sydney's stand - and those of several other young women - have been somewhat successful. This year, the organization made the Cub Scouts co-ed but decided to hold off on doing doing the same for the Boy Scouts until 2019.
That decision poses a problem in Sydney's quest to pursue the rank of Eagle Scout, which can be a lengthy process.
"I will 'age-out' of the program a little bit after they change their policies," Ireland said.
And that doesn't sit well with members of Civic Troop 414, where Syndey is an unofficial member.
"That's just like saying you're not allowed to do something because of who you are. That's literally what it's saying. That goes all the way back like also to other situations that are just like this except maybe not with what gender you are but like maybe with race," Lucas Pinto Greenberg, a Troop 414 Member.
"I don't want them to make her go all the way back to scout and have to do everything over again when she's so close," said Axel Pinto Greenberg, a Troop 414 Member.
And whether or not she's successful in her latest battle, it has implications for other young women with the same goal.
"My brother is an Eagle and my dad is an Eagle too so the second I found out that there's a possibility even a remote chance I could be an eagle I wanted to jump on the opportunity," said Beatrix Bisceglia, a BSA SEA Scouts member.
NY1 did reach out to the Boy Scouts for comment but did not receive a response. Sydney's family says their last hope is an appeal to current BSA president Randall Stevenson, who's also the CEO of AT&T.
"He's part of this See-Her movement at AT&T which has been so successful in raising the profile of gender equality," Ireland said.
Ireland’s family is urging supporters to take action and email AT&T CEO-Boy Scouts President Randall Stephenson and Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh, telling these leaders that young women like Sydney should be allowed to join the Boy Scouts now.
Send your email to:Randall.Stephenson@scouting.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Michael.Surbaugh@scouting.org; and Charles.Dahlquist@scouting.org.
Supporters can also take action by signing Sydney’s online petition on change.org, which has gained momentum and national media attention in the past year.
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