A 15-year-old girl from the Long Island, New York, has decided that boys’ groups are better than girls’ and she wants to be a part of one.
Sydney Ireland wants to join the Boy Scouts of America, specifically, so she can earn the rank of Eagle Scout. Right now, the co-ed programs the Scouts offer don’t lead to that high — and highly coveted — rank.
Sydney’s dad, an attorney and former Scout leader, says he just wants his daughter to be able to join the Scouts because “it’s time.” He says Hillary Clinton is running for president and gays are allowed to be members and leaders, so why not girls?
Right now, Sydney is part of a Canadian Boy Scout troop, which she has access to but not easily. She lives about 10 hours away from London, Ontario, the town where her troop meets, but she makes the trip anyway, because Canada allows girls to join. Currently, she’s the only girl in Troop 80.
She told Yahoo! News that her fellow Scouts accept her:
“I’m pretty sure they’re fine with that because I’ve gone to most of the meetings and a lot of the camping trips and they’re fine with it.”
She’s put a petition on Change.org to put political pressure on the Scouts to change their ways. Her petition, “The Boy Scouts of America: End Discrimination Against Young Women,” reads, in part:
“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. 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.
Of the current Congress, 191 members were involved in Scouting, 18 current U.S. governors participated in Scouting, and many of them are Eagle Scouts. The facts say it all — high-level Scouting creates opportunity, and with opportunity comes a chance at success in the global community.”
“I’m not too familiar with Girl Scouts, but Boy Scouts also has the Eagle Rank. I know there’s an equivalent in Girl Scouts, as well, but I want girls to have to have the choice to join whatever program they want.”
Ireland is also present at the National Organization for Women’s 50th Anniversary celebration and is asking them to support a resolution calling for the Boy Scouts to change.
The Boy Scouts have issued a statement saying that’s not going to happen:
“We understand that the values and the lessons of Scouting are attractive to the entire family,” said Effie Delimarkos, director of communications for the Boy Scouts of America. However, the Boy Scouts of America was chartered by Congress in 1916 to serve boys and young men across the nation through the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs, which are year-round programs for boys in the first grade through age 18. We have since developed alternative programs that are co-ed, such as Venturing, but to change the Cub or Boy Scouting programs would go outside the bounds of our charter.”
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates leads the Boy Scouts of America and was instrumental in allowing openly gay members and leaders. Gates also would know something about women in the highest rankings of military service. And before he left his post, he gave the idea of women in combat some consideration.
When asked about letting in an entirely different gender, however, Sydney Ireland brushed off the idea of it being that big a deal, saying women are half the population so let them in.
But judging by some of the reactions, to some people it’s a very big deal. Most had one basic observation, ‘Hey kid, ever heard about this organization called the Girl Scouts?’:
This mother of an aspiring Eagle Scout said:
“Taking this distinction away from boys because a girl doesn’t want to do what it takes to earn the highest rank in Girl scouts??? No way!”
This commenter wondered if the Girl Scouts shouldn’t change up their program to make it more like Boy Scouts:
As she put it:
“I believe girl scouts should do a lot more activities the boy scouts do and vice versa:
One woman said that the Girl Scouts are as rigorous, if not more so, as the Boy Scouts:
“The Gold Award is the equivalent to the Eagle Award and opens up the same opportunity for scholarships, military and employment.”
And this person said if she wants to change something, how about changing the Girl Scouts:
Girls in the past have tried to break into Boy Scouts, but the Scouts have been resolute about keeping it solely an organization for boys.