NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 15-year-old girl with dreams of becoming an Eagle Scout is speaking out after being denied permission to join the organization because of her gender.
Sydney Ireland said even though this country has made leaps and bounds when it comes to accepting others, she does not understand why the Boy Scouts are so backwards when they refused to let her join.
“It was definitely disappointing,” Ireland told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.
Ireland was part of the Cub Scouts on an unofficial basis, but when she turned 11, she wanted to become a Boy Scout like her brother.
“My parents gave me the opportunity to join the Girl Scouts, but I really just wanted to do what my brother was doing,” she told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Ireland said eh proved herself to be quite adept as a scout.
“When I was 11, I also unofficially earned the arrow of light which is the highest award in the Cub Scout program,” she said.
Spurred on by her brother who recently earned his Eagle Scout badge, Sydney lobbied to join the ranks.
“I tried to continue my journey throughout the Boy Scouts, and I wasn’t allowed to because I was female,” she said.
Ireland says her main reason for becoming a Boy Scout is to receive the Eagle Scout ranking, which she believes will help her get into a great colleges, and help her get jobs she otherwise wouldn’t be able to get without the ranking.
The Boy Scouts said in a statement they have a co-ed program called Venturing, which accommodates both male and female participants.
Others challenged her to join Girl Scouting to help their ‘Gold Award’ program become just as significant, but Sydney had her eyes set on the already established Eagle Scout badge, it’s been earned by presidents, astronauts, and military leaders.
“There’s a large percentage of boys who end up at West Point and in the military, and really elite institutions because they are Eagle Scouts or Boy Scouts,” her father Gary said.
With help from her father Gary she created an online petition which has almost 5,000 signatures — to officially allow girls to have membership in the Boy Scouts.
One retired Eagle Scout was so impressed he mailed her his badge as encouragement.
The Boy Scouts of America told CBS2 via email that allowing girls to join the organization would go against the group’s original charter, created in 1916.
“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,” the organization said in a statement.
The organization says to change the standard Boy Scout program would “go outside the bounds” of their charter.
Sydney is currently part of a coed scouting group in Ontario, Canada communicating with her troop via video conference as she completes community service projects.