A Utah family is suing the Boy Scouts of America, claiming the organization discriminated against their 15-year-old son who has low functioning Down Syndrome and autism.
Logan Blythe has spent years completing as many tasks as possible to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, according to KTLA sister station KSTU in Salt Lake City.
His sash is filled with more than 20 merit badges he’s earned.
In November, the Utah National Parks Council approved Logan’s Eagle Scout rank.
“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,” said Chad Blythe, Logan’s father.
He told KSTU that, just a day later, it was taken away.
“We contacted national, and national said, no,” Chad Blythe said.
Logan’s low functioning Down syndrome prevents him from doing some of the tasks the Boy Scouts require to earn the Eagle Scout rank, according to his family.
His father described how Logan’s disability impacts his efforts to earn the swimming badge.
“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,” Chad Blythe said.
Because Logan can’t complete those tasks, the family says the Boy Scouts of America won’t honor the badges Logan has earned, locally.
Blythe believes the Boy Scouts should make exceptions for children with disabilities.
"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," he said.
KSTU reached out to the Boy Scouts of America for a comment. The organization replied with a statement saying, in part, “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.”
But the Blythes say that doesn’t go far enough, and because of his limitations, Logan can’t do what’s required to earn the alternative badges.
Logan, who once loved the work he did with the Scouts, hasn’t been to a meeting since learning he isn’t getting honored with the Eagle rank.
“He won’t put on his scout uniform now. He doesn’t want to go near it,” Chad Blythe said.
The lawsuit seeks damages of at least $1. The Blythe’s say this isn’t about money. They want their son to feel included and have the same opportunities as everyone else.
They fear, even if this leads to a positive resolution, Logan won’t go back to the Scouts because this incident has been so traumatic.
Here's the complete statement from the Boy Scouts of America:
"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."