Local Boy Scouts of America and Utah park officials are facing a discrimination lawsuit after they initially told 15-year-old Logan Blythe his project to become an Eagle Scout had been approved just to have the approval revoked later in the day. The issue surrounds the fact that Logan Blythe was born with Down syndrome and has the intellect of a four-year-old and has trouble speaking.
The lawsuit filed by the Blythes requests the Boy Scouts make accommodations for Logan to attempt to earn the rank of Eagle Scout and requests damages greater than $1.
The issues started last November when Logan and his parents celebrated with BSA officials when they were informed his Eagle Scout project had been approved, especially as becoming an Eagle Scout at 15 is something of a feat. However, Logan’s father, Chad Blythe, had to break the news to Logan the next day when he received an email from one of the Boy Scout officials they had just celebrated with saying Logan’s project — making infant care kits for newborns in the hospital — was not approved by the BSA.
Local officials instigated an unfortunate situation.
“I have been asked to suspend Logan’s Eagle Project approval,” the email said. “Please do not do any more work on his project.”
It continued to say, “The young man MUST do the requirements as written, including leadership responsibilities. He also must be able to plan, develop and carry out his Eagle Project.”
Because of Logan’s developmental issues, the Boy Scouts allows for merit badges to be earned and awarded as long as he made an attempt to the best of his ability. However, the highest rank of Eagle Scout must be earned according to the requirements and apparently without accommodations for disabilities.
“I sincerely apologize and regret any false hope we have given,” the email reads.
An apology is all well and good but having to tell a boy with Logan’s intellect that his incredible achievement toward his dream has been quashed was a terrible position for the Boy Scout leaders to put the Blythe family in.
The lawsuit says what the local BSA officials did “was outrageous and reckless and caused Logan and the Blythes significant mental and emotional distress.”
For their part, the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement in March saying they want to work with Logan and the Blythes to accommodate his disability in order to move him through the ranks. However, Chad Blythe says they have not reached out to them to do so and believes the statement was issued to save the BSA embarrassment.
While it’s understandable for the Boy Scouts of America to hold certain standards, especially for its highest and most difficult achievement of Eagle Scout, and as their website states not all Boy Scouts will be able to achieve the rank regardless of ability, it’s sad that the Blythes are having to sue in order to get a response from the BSA.
“If we can make a change and make something positive come of all of this, then the next kid … won’t have to do what we’re doing now,” Logan’s father said, “and they won’t be hurt and let down the way Logan has been let down.”
Hopefully, the Boy Scouts — which pride themselves on being inclusive — and the Blythes can work out a program for Logan and the local officials to use as a learning experience so something like it doesn’t happen to another scout with special needs.