Father sues Boy Scouts of America for rejecting 15-year-old son with Down syndrome, autism as Eagle Scout

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Logan Blythe, 15, who has Down syndrome and autism, was stripped of his Boy Scouts badges and deemed ineligible for Eagle Scout status. (Photo: Courtesy of Chad Blythe)

The father of a boy with Down syndrome and autism is suing the Boy Scouts of America for banning his son from becoming an Eagle Scout and revoking all of his badges.

Logan Blythe, 15, has been a Boy Scout for the past three years through his local Utah chapter the National Parks Council. Despite his intellectual limitations, he has risen through the organization’s ranking system by the grace of the council, which makes accommodations when necessary. “For example, if a task is cooking and the instructions are to pour a cup of flour, Logan won’t stop pouring,” dad Chad Blythe tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “In situations like that, the local chapter has awarded him a badge regardless, for his effort.”

Blythe says he has always been transparent about the amendments made for Logan, periodically emailing his local chapter to ensure his son was on track.

To become an Eagle Scout, the highest and most elite ranking in the Boy Scouts organization, boys must earn 22 different badges and demonstrate leadership through a service-based task such as painting a local school, building park benches, or fixing fences.

In November, Logan got approval from his local chapter for his Eagle project: creating kits with onesies and blankets for special-needs babies and distributing them to hospitals. “This was the perfect task for Logan, who was excited to put the kits together and drop them off,” says Chad.

However, 24 hours later, Chad says he received a text message stating that Logan’s project was inexplicably suspended. When family members met with their local chapter, they received more bad news. “The national office looked into how Logan had earned his badges and decided that he didn’t really meet the requirements,” says Chad. “The National Parks Council said their hands were tied and they apologized for letting Logan advance so many levels.”

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A father is suing the Boy Scouts of America for rejecting his son with Down syndrome and autism. (Photo: Getty Images)

The dad says the council had good intentions, but he’s upset about the miscommunication.

“We are moved by this young man’s desire to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout,” The Utah National Parks Council told Salt Lake City local news station KSL-TV. “We’ve worked closely with this young man and his family to attain the benefits of the Scouting program and are committed to continuing to do so. The Eagle Scout Award is a national award. Final decisions regarding the Eagle requirements are made at the National BSA level. Since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has served youth members with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities. Through the Disability Awareness Committee, the BSA enables youth to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout. The Utah National Parks Council stands ready to assist all Scouts and their families who, despite extraordinary circumstances, have the desire to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.”

A representative for Boy Scouts of America sent this statement to Yahoo Lifestyle:

“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.” 

The rep added: “Children with special needs are welcome and empowered to participate in the program. They can do so by coming to troop meetings and functions, and don’t even need to earn merit badges to participate. For instance, any Scout can go camping and hiking with his troop, have fun through the program and never earn a merit badge. Advancement, which is in part accomplished through the earning of merit badges and can culminate in earning the highest rank of Eagle Scout, is only one aspect of the program.”

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Chad Blythe says his son, Logan, is being discriminated against by the Boy Scouts of America. (Photo: Courtesy of Chad Blythe)

“Boy Scouts with disabilities may qualify for the Eagle Scout rank. The Scout must earn as many of the Eagle-required merit badges as he can, and may then submit an application for alternative merit badges for those he cannot. His BSA local council may approve alternative merit  badge(s) for him to earn. Any alternatives must present the same challenge and learning level as those they replace. The Eagle Rank is an incredible achievement and a demonstration of living by the principles of the Scout Oath and Law.”

Logan’s family has filed a lawsuit against the the Boy Scouts of America and the Utah National Parks  Council for “damages greater than one dollar” for “outrageous and reckless conduct and disregard of the emotional well-being of Logan.”

“The Boy Scouts have lost their way,” Ted McBride, the Blythe family attorney, told KSL-TV. “The local Utah people did not want to enforce this discriminatory policy, but regrettably that turned out to be a bad decision for them. The Boy Scouts have made accommodations for those who identify as transgender, they have even accepted girls into the boy scouts, and they are going to fight this? For what? To protect the prestigious Eagle Scout badge?”

Chad says the lawsuit is simply to restore Logan’s honor. “I want the Boy Scouts to change its policy,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “They should reinstate Logan’s badges and acknowledge the fact that not all boys have the same capabilities.”

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