The National Organization for Women Calls on Boy Scouts of America to End Discriminatory Policies and Let Girls Join

Press Releases / February 6, 2017

Boy Scouts of America Denies Equal Opportunity Access for Girls

February 3, 2017 – New York – The National Organization for Women is calling for the Boy Scouts of America (Boy Scouts) to honor its decree to help all children, by permitting girls to gain full membership in the Boy Scouts. Just this week, the Boy Scouts announced its new policy of welcoming transgender male scouts into all its programs.

Although girls are allowed into some programs, they are still banned from joining Cub Packs or Scout Troops, joining the Boy Scout honor society, earning Merit Badges, and competing to earn the organization’s highest rank – that of Eagle Rank.

Citing Scouting’s global expansion and influence, which has raised the international profile of the rank of Eagle, NOW New York President Sonia Ossorio states, “The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t offer the opportunity for co-ed scouting for our youth. By enabling young girls and boys to learn formative skills side-by-side, Scouting can best offer empowerment for all young people to develop into confident leaders.”

Today, Eagle Scouts have access to opportunities exclusive to their rank, including admission into the National Eagle Scout Association, and entree to scholarships only available to Eagle Scouts. Additionally, the rank of Eagle Scout opens doors to admission offices more quickly at selective colleges, and the most challenging and high paid jobs, including many on Wall Street. At least two-thirds of all astronauts were involved in Scouting and of the 24 men to travel to the moon, 21 were Eagle Scouts. In other fields, ten U.S. Senators and 16% of West Point Cadets also earned the rank of Eagle Scout.

The National Organization for Women approved the resolution to support girls’ access to the Boy Scouts in response to the pioneering efforts of 15-year-old Sydney Ireland. Ireland is championing an inclusive policy at the Boy Scouts to allow girls the same opportunities currently only available to boys.

Ireland says in her petition, “I cannot change my gender to fit the Boy Scouts’ standards, but the Boy Scouts can change their standards to include me. I am determined to be an Eagle Scout. I know I could rise through the ranks and become an Eagle Scout alongside the boys – all I need is the opportunity.”

National NOW President, Terry O’Neill says, “Women can now hold all combat roles in the military, and women have broken many glass ceilings at the top levels of government, business, academia and entertainment. It’s long past due that girls have equal opportunities in Scouting.”

In its resolution, NOW also calls on the federal government to prohibit any federal support for the Boy Scouts until the organization ends its discriminatory ban against girls.

Today, Scout Troops around the world are co-ed including in France, Canada and Afghanistan. Referring to the upcoming International Jamboree, scheduled to take place in 2019 at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, West Virginia, USA, Ireland inquired, “Will the Boy Scout of America ban co-ed foreign Troops or girls at the International Jamboree?

NOW-NYC advocates for the women and girls of New York, by working to defend reproductive rights, fight economic inequality, and end discrimination and violence against women. As the largest NOW chapter in the country, they play a key role in shaping both the local and national debate on the issues that impact women.

Women’s Justice NOW is NOW’s charitable partner organization, supporting their public education and outreach efforts and providing legal help and referrals to women in need.