Trailblazing Manhattan girl — an Eagle Scout hopeful — joins Rep. Maloney for Trump state of the uni
WASHINGTON — Sydney Ireland wasn’t wearing white at the State of the Union like Democratic women lawmakers who wanted to show their solidarity in front of President Donald Trump with the suffragists who secured the right for women to vote in America.
The 17-year-old Manhattan girl was wearing her Boy Scouts green and khaki uniform because she wants to be a trailblazer for her generation, perhaps the first girl in America to be named an Eagle Scout by Scouting BSA, which until recently, was the Boy Scouts of America.
Ireland started Scouting when her older brother Bryan was in the Cub Scouts. She just wanted in on the cool stuff he was up to. And her troop let her, through an unofficial auxiliary for girls that included all the same activities as the boys, she said.
But then came the leap to the Boy Scouts, and she realized she was not getting any recognition for doing the same things as the boys.
“I found out that girls couldn’t officially earn anything,” she recalled, sitting next to Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who dressed in her suffragist white with an “ERA Now” pinned to her chest.
So she started advocating for full inclusion for girls. The Scouts said they would do it back in 2017, and finally did it Feb. 1 this year.
“I feel that she has achieved a great thing,” said Maloney, whose own cause right now is finally getting the Equal Rights Amendment ratified and added to the U.S. Constitution. “How many of us really change policy in this country? She’s made it easier and better for all the girls coming after her, and changed the whole environment.”
Ireland still has one major hurdle. She’s done all the work required to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the pinnacle of Scouting.
But Scouting BSA appears unwilling to recognize her documented achievements, such as being elected the senior patrol leader of her mostly male troop. It wants her to start from scratch.
“Sydney, like all girls joining Scouts BSA as of February 1st, will absolutely have a chance to become an Eagle Scout,” a spokeswoman said. “We are proud that Sydney Ireland was one of the first girls to join Scouts BSA on February 1st, and we will be proud to see her grow in Scouting, attend the World Scout Jamboree and be one of the first female Eagle Scouts in the inaugural class that will be celebrated in 2020.”
Ireland is hoping for a little better.
“With this new Scouts BSA, I think that they should start off on the right foot, and award young women, like myself, the accomplishments that we’ve achieved,” Ireland said. “It’s kind of mitigating the accomplishments of young women, including myself, who have been fighting for this for years, and accomplished the Eagle Scout before 2020.”
Ireland said she was inspired along the way by the battle by gay Scouts to get recognition and inclusion, and she sees the latest acceptance of girls as a last step for the venerable institution into this millennium.
“They’ve been very behind in their policies, and they’re finally recognizing that all people should be treated equally and have equal rights,” Ireland said. “It’s taken them a long time to realize that, but they’re finally recognizing that regardless of sexuality, gender, race, anything, that people should have the same opportunities, and the same opportunities to achieve the Eagle Scout, which opens up so many doors that previously were not available to people that are gay, and women.”
Maloney said much the same a week earlier when she reintroduced an ERA, an act to elevate women to the Constitution that was first proposed in 1923, about a dozen years after the Scouts launched for boys.