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Daughter-father duo, both with roots in a PC(USA) congregation, earn recognition for advocating for gender inclusivity within the Boy Scouts of America

Sydney Ireland, among the first females to become an Eagle Scout, is honored alongside her father, attorney and educator Gary Ireland

by the James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation | Special to Presbyterian News Service

Sydney Ireland, second from left, and her father, Gary Ireland, at right, were recently honored for their advocacy work by the James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation. Also pictured are former  U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, at left, and Carolyn Maloney, a former U.S. House member and the current president of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women. (Contributed photo)

NEW YORK — The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation, renowned for its dedication to empowering and acknowledging young global leaders, is delighted to announce a historic milestone in the Foundation’s history. The “24 Under 24 Award” and the “Global Leader Award” will be bestowed upon an exceptional daughter-father duo, Sydney Ireland and her father, Gary Ireland, both of them with deep roots in a PC(USA) congregation in New York City. This recognition is in honor of their tireless and transformative efforts in advocating for gender inclusivity within the Boy Scouts of America.

For more than a decade, Sydney Ireland passionately championed her cause, echoing the simple request, “Let me in,” to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout Award. Her steadfast determination led to a pivotal moment where the Boy Scouts of America not only granted entry to girls and young women but also rebranded their flagship program as “Scouts BSA” to reflect a more inclusive stance on gender.

Both Irelands, staunch advocates for gender equality and inclusivity, spearheaded the movement that allowed girls to join the Boy Scouts. Their unwavering passion, dedication, and their challenge to traditional gender norms in the previously male-dominated organization have been nothing short of remarkable. The Boy Scouts of America, a renowned training ground for youth leadership, which counts former President Gerald Ford, filmmaker Steven Spielberg, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and now, Sydney Ireland among its alumni, was forever transformed by the Ireland family’s pioneering efforts. Their impact resonated, inspiring more than 400,000 young girls in the United States to follow their passions and join a movement that was once exclusively for boys, while also generating an estimated $40 million for the scouting organization, just this year.

In recognizing Sydney Ireland with the 24 Under 24 Award, the J. Luce Foundation acknowledges her exceptional leadership, vision, and her commitment to making a meaningful difference in the world. The acknowledgment of her father with the Global Leader Award celebrates his significant contributions to fostering a better, more inclusive world.

Avenue Church NYC, the former Jan Hus Presbyterian Church in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City, and the Presbytery of New York City are “where the plan for equality was launched,” Gary Ireland wrote in an email.

Together, the profound influence of this father-daughter team, as they challenged conventions and championed inclusion, has left an indelible mark on the world of scouting and beyond, emphasizing the importance of diversity and equality for all young people.

The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation’s awards ceremony, set to take place on Nov. 7, will also introduce “Complete Playground,” an innovative and inclusive family center and sensory gym.

About Sydney Ireland
At the age of 10, Sydney Ireland initiated a challenge to the Boy Scouts of America, simply asking to be granted the opportunity to earn the Eagle Scout Award  with these words: “Let Me In.” Little did she know that this request would lead to a decade-long journey that not only launched a successful global initiative but also transformed the Boy Scouts of America, allowing girls and young women to join in 2019. Additionally, her actions led to the organization’s premier program being renamed Scouts BSA.

Today, Ireland’s legacy is visible in the more than 400,000 girls and young women participating in Scouts BSA. Her relentless pursuit of gender equality in the premier youth leadership program is in development as a motion picture by acclaimed filmmaker John A. Corso.

About Gary Ireland, Esq.
Gary Ireland is an accomplished attorney, advocate, and educator who supports executives in transition as well as start-ups and emerging businesses. He brings a wealth of experience to this role, having worked with a variety of clients across different industries. Ireland has been recognized for his legal advocacy by organizations such as the National Organization for Women, the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, and the NAACP. He is currently on the board of directors of the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute and teaches advocacy at the summer intensive program.

Ireland is known for partnering with local and national organizations to effectuate positive change, advocating for women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights, environmental activism and all human rights.

About the James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation

The James Jay Dudley Luce Foundation is dedicated to supporting young leaders and their efforts to make a positive impact on society. The Foundation’s programs, awards, and initiatives celebrate and empower the next generation of global leaders who are committed to creating a better world.

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