Eagle Scout Sydney Ireland (center, in uniform) celebrated her new rank at the office of NOW-NY with friends and family, including Taylor Abbruzzese from Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney’s office, Jim Nedelka, NOW-NY President Sonia Ossorio, college friend Zora Duncan, her father Gary Ireland, her brother Bryan Ireland and family friend Paul Marshall, along with her dog (pictured at the bottom), Scout. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
UPDATE: See below for a correction to this story.
Stuyvesant Town native Sydney Ireland will officially be recognized as an Eagle Scout after a board of review voted to approve her Eagle Scout project on Tuesday evening.
Now a freshman at Amherst College in Massachusetts, Ireland returned to New York this week for the first time since starting school so that she could meet with the board that ultimately approved her, officially making her an Eagle Scout.
Ireland has been fighting to be recognized by the organization since following her older brother into scouting at the age of 4, and although the Boy Scouts of America officially changed the name of their premier program to the gender-neutral “Scouts BSA” to allow young women to participate starting this year, Ireland herself was not being recognized for the work she had already completed.
The BSA even previously recognized her as a catalyst for the changes that were made to the program but denied her Eagle Scout rank by claiming that all the work she had done up to that point didn’t count, likening it to auditing classes in college. Although she had already completed one Eagle Scout project, she finished a second project in June, officially finishing all the requirements to become an Eagle Scout and making the board of review official.
Local elected officials held a press conference by the Fearless Girl statue to draw attention to the fact that Stuyvesant Town Boy Scout Sydney Ireland, who’s been in the program for over a decade, still doesn’t have her record of work recognized. (Pictured) Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, Sydney Ireland, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Sonia Ossorio, president of the New York chapter of NOW (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Just as the organization officially began accepting girls into its program on February 1, elected officials last week called on the Boy Scouts of America to officially recognize Stuyvesant Town resident Sydney Ireland’s 13 years of work as a Scout.
Assembly Member Harvey Epstein, along with State Senator (and Eagle Scout) Brad Hoylman and other advocates, joined 17-year-old Ireland at the Fearless Girl statue last Thursday to demand the BSA formally acknowledge Ireland’s work with the organization.
Ireland joined the Cub Scouts at age four with her brother and has been fighting to be recognized by the organization since she was 11. She said that leaders at the local level have been more open to making decisions that allow her and other girls to participate but that despite changes at the national level, much of her work in the Scouts will have to be redone.
“If the (Boy Scouts of America) wants to welcome young women and build our program, we must be treated equally,” Ireland, who has been working to obtain the coveted Eagle rank, said. “(Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh) should not hide behind the discriminatory membership ban against girls to then justify dismissing my hard work and the work of so many young women.”
Since the Boy Scouts started allowing in younger girls ages 5-10 this September, 56,000 have joined. While this should be wonderful news, the Scouts have yet to recognize the contributions by girls who have already been in the program, albeit unofficially, for years. This means that Sydney Ireland, a Stuy Town resident and female Boy Scout who is currently close to completing her Eagle project, is expected by the Boy Scouts to start the program over in February, when girls will be allowed to officially join.
That said, Sydney is still fighting to have her work (over a decade’s worth) with the program recognized.
On Sunday, she will be involved with a Connect a Pet with a Vet project. Working with Bideawee pet adoption on 38th Street, just east of First Avenue, and veterans groups, including Backpacks for Life and 100 Memorial Run, Sydney will be raising money to cover the adoption costs for veterans. Donations can also be made online.
Bideawee is also hoping for donations of leashes, harnesses, dog and cat toys and clean towels. The Irelands’ family dog, Scout, came from Bideawee.
Sydney Ireland speaks at the National Organization for Women convention in 2015. (Photos courtesy of Gary Ireland)
By Sabina Mollot
Since the age of four, Sydney Ireland knew that she wanted to be a Boy Scout. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t a boy. Her older brother Bryan was a Scout — later an Eagle Scout — and she wanted to be doing the things he was doing, from earning merit badges to ice climbing in Lake Placid.
Now 15, Sydney has been active in the Boy Scouts — albeit unofficially — for over a decade, and has been along with her family, pushing for the national organization to formally accept and recognize the contributions made by female members like herself. She first reached out to the organization via an op-ed in this newspaper. She’s since done a handful of interviews on the subject and recently even got the backing of NOW.