NOW-NYC Calls on the Boy Scouts to Recognize Female Scouts

Press Releases / July 12, 2019


BSA continues to deny Sydney Ireland– first female to accomplish Eagle Rank– her due.

Troop 414 leader and member Sydney Ireland, 18, has successfully completed all requirements for earning an Eagle Rank, the highest in the organization and an achievement boys and men for the past 100 years have had the opportunity to use as a powerful credential and networking tool. Indeed, many of our most famous male leaders, including Michael Bloomberg, Steven Spielberg and Neil Armstrong are Eagle Scouts.

Sydney, an unofficial BSA member since the age of 4, has spearheaded efforts and pushed BSA to allow girls as official members her entire childhood. Her advocacy led the BSA to finally allow and recognize girls as full members girls in Troops, which means that rather than sit on the sidelines while boys (many their siblings) are presented with medals, while their sisters were not so subtly given the message they were not worthy – girls can now join as full members. Unfortunately, the Boy Scout leadership still bans young women from earning the Eagle Rank.

In ending the barring of female troop members from participating officially earlier this year, Boy Scouts of America became the last Western scouting organization to allow women to join as members. BSA has benefited from Sydney’s efforts with a surge in official memberships of young women and girls, with nearly 100,000 new female members joining Cub Scout Packs (ages 5-10 year) and Scouts BSA Troops (ages 11-18).

As NOW-NYC President, Sonia Ossorio said earlier today “The Boy Scouts of America and its current leadership will forever be tarnished if they think they can continue to welcome new girls into Cub Packs and Scout Troops with fanfare, while shunning the girls who earned rank and merit badges without recognition alongside boys year after year, sticking it out for the skills, camaraderie and pledge of fulfillment while those at the top ignored them. Now that’s a skill. BSA leaders can’t turn it’s back on these girls by saying they didn’t follow the rules. It’s pretty despicable. And it will not serve the Scouts BSA in the long run.”

Through her advocacy, Sydney gained the early support of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Brad Hoylman, NY State Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Member Keith Powers and many others, including many in the media, in her successful odyssey to join the historic 108-year-old male dominated institution, an icon of American society.

Of course, with the BSA hosting the international renowned World Scout Jamboree starting on July 22nd, the first time in the US in over 50 years, all eyes of the Scouting world are now on Scouts BSA. Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts and its leaders – President Jim Turley and Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh – should be ashamed, as the BSA still bans young women from earning the highest award in scouting, the Eagle Rank. With boys permitted to earn the Eagle Rank immediately upon completing the work, NOW-NYC demands that young women be permitted to earn the Eagle Rank NOW? Sadly, when Sydney raised concerns of inequity in Scouting, she was targeted for dangerous online harassment by an adult leader in the honor society. Why did it take 8 months to revoke the membership of the Boy Scout cyber-harasser?


NOW-NYC ignites change for the women and girls of New York. We advance laws, promote women in politics, fight for reproductive justice, challenge discrimination and violence against women, and act NOW.

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