Family Sues After Boy Scouts Strip Badges From Son With Down Syndrome
A Utah man is suing the Irving, Texas-based Boy Scouts of America after the organization voided every merit badge his son — who has Down syndrome — has earned, blocking the 15-year-old’s path to becoming an Eagle Scout.
Chad Blythe of Payson, Utah, filed the lawsuit last week in the state’s 4th District Court, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. He claims the Boy Scouts and the Utah National Parks Council engaged in “outrageous and reckless conduct” and that his family has suffered emotional distress because of their actions.
Logan Blythe had been planning to create kits with blankets and onesies for infants with special needs as his Eagle Scout project, his father said. The kits would then be given to hospitals.
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But after local Scouting officials submitted the project to the national office, the Boy Scouts determined that Logan hadn’t followed the exact requirements to earn his merit badges. Boy Scouts must earn 21 merit badges in addition to the Eagle project to attain the rank of Eagle Scout.
Chad Blythe said Logan’s chapter had made accommodations for his disability to help him earn merit badges during his years as a Scout.
“For example, if a task is cooking and the instructions are to pour a cup of flour, Logan won’t stop pouring,” he told Yahoo. “In situations like that, the local chapter has awarded him a badge regardless, for his effort.”
Blythe wrote on Facebook that because of his son’s disability, there aren’t any merit badges he can complete precisely — many involve memorization, speaking or performing a task on command.
In a prepared statement, the Boy Scouts said the group has always “served youth members with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.”
“Scouting is uniquely positioned among youth programs to meet the needs of Scouts with disabilities by providing diverse programs and social experiences,” the statement said. “The Utah National Parks Council has worked closely with this young man and his family to deliver a positive experience in our programs.”
A spokeswoman, Effie Delimarkos, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the organization has offered the Blythe family a “a path to earning alternative merit badges based on (Logan’s) abilities” and noted that requiring the same merit-badge standards from Scouts is meant to promote equity.
She added that Logan was welcome in the Boy Scouts, just like any other child, and that the group recognized his dedication at an event earlier this year.
But the Blythes’ attorney, Ted McBride, says the Boy Scouts “have lost their way.”
“The local Utah people did not want to enforce this discriminatory policy, but regrettably that turned out to be a bad decision for them,” McBride told KSL-TV.
“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?”
Logan’s mother, Diane Blythe, told The Salt Lake Tribune that her son has surprised them with what he has accomplished by trying different merit badges — in one instance shocking them with his capability at tying knots.
“We don’t know what his abilities are until we test them,” she told the newspaper. “That’s what’s fun about these different things.”
The family’s lawsuit seeks $1 in damages and for Logan’s badges to be reinstated.
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