A couple from Utah have begun legal proceedings against the Boy Scouts of America alleging that the organisation has discriminated against their 15-year-old son on the basis of his low functioning autism and down’s syndrome diagnoses.
Logan Blythe has spent years struggling to reach the level of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America. He has difficulty with some of the tasks but has otherwise earned a surprising number, and where he is unable to perform the tasks required of a badge the local chapter of his scouts has still awarded the badge anyway. At first the National office of the Boy Scouts was willing to honour his 20 badges and promote him to Eagle Scout, and Logan was ecstatic at the news.
His father told reporters,
“When we actually got the approval, he was so elated and the three people that approved it actually took pictures of it because he was so happy and overjoyed.”
However the next day when they phoned the national office to confirm the award they were told the 20 merit badges would not be honoured, because Logan did not perform the tasks necessary to earn them.
“I need to be able to ask, 'Logan, dive to the bottom of the pool buddy, can you grab that?' He won’t do it. Why? Because his mental state is the equivalent of a 4-year-old,” his father explained. “There are plenty of instances where there are kids out there that just can’t do certain things, that doesn’t mean they get excluded from it.”
As a 2nd-gen #EagleScout & elected official, I've delivered the Eagle Oath and congratulations to numerous @boyscouts. #LoganBlythe's commitment to #Scouting & his triumph is inspiring, and the #BSA should recognize him among the brotherhood of Eagles.https://t.co/FQs7tiWo6F— John Bartlett (@johnwbartlett) 19 March 2018
The Boy Scouts of America has released the following statement:
“We continue to work closely with our Disabilities Awareness Committee, which is tasked with making sure Scouts with disabilities can actively participate in Scouting activities.
“We worked with the committee and the Blythe family to offer Logan a path to earning alternative merit badges based on his abilities, as well as the option to work toward his Eagle rank past the age of 18 by completing the ‘Request for Registration Beyond the Age of Eligibility’. This specific request is focused on supporting Scouts with permanent and severe disabilities so as to allow them to continue working toward an Eagle rank indefinitely.”
However Logan’s father has criticised the response, saying that the alternatives offered aren’t sufficient, and that Logan still lacks the skills necessary to complete them. He says that the experience has been extremely upsetting for Logan:
“He won’t put on his scout uniform now. He doesn’t want to go near it.”
Despite the seriousness of the accusation Logan’s parents only seek damages of one dollar. They say that what matters is that Logan is recognised and that the Boy Scouts learn to include children with disabilities who are unable to meet the requirements.