The father of a teen has sued the Boy Scouts of America after they refused to let his son, who is autistic and has Down syndrome, to progress into higher ranks.
Logan Blyth, 15, of Payson, Utah, was barred from climbing up the Boy Scouts ranks, which would have made him an Eagle Scout. He was also stripped of the merit badges that he had earned over the span of three years after performing tasks such as cooking, swimming and working with horses.
The reason Logan’s badges were taken away was because the state’s National Parks Council discovered that the teenager received external help from some local leaders to complete the tasks that badges were awarded for.
Chad Blyth, Logan’s father, said that his son had the mental age of a 4-year-old kid and hence needed some assistance in completing complicated tasks like cooking or diving under water to retrieve an object. “For example, if a task is cooking and the instructions are to pour a cup of flour, Logan won’t stop pouring,” Chad told Metro.
“After a meeting three weeks later, (it transpired that) because Logan had not been able to do all the particular requirements for any particular merit badges he got no merit badges, and was stripped of those merit badges, stripped of those ranks, and essentially made a cub scout,” Chad added.
Logan had already collected 20 merit badges and needed just two more to make it to 22, which is the requirement for becoming an Eagle Scout. Chad said that he and his son had already planned the perfect project to score the two pending badges and got it approved by the council merely 24 hours before they decided to demote Logan.
“When we reach the top, the Eagle Scout rank, in November, and submitted his project. In order to achieve Eagle Scout rank, you have to do a community service project,” Chad said. “In this case, we were going to do some kits for some newborns for people who have special needs at the local hospital. We went through, got that approved, even got some pictures with the council members that approved it.”
Since Chad was only looking to make the Boy Scouts of America realize that they need to update their policy and give equal opportunities to children with special needs to climb up the ranks, the father sued the council for just a dollar.
The Boy Scouts of America said in a statement that for kids like Logan, they have the disabilities awareness committee, which ensures that children with special needs will be able to participate.
“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,'” the statement said, Patch reported. “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, Chad said that he disagrees with the fact that his son has to be discriminated against. He wanted the Boy Scouts to update their rules of earning a merit badge to a child completing a task “to the best of the boy’s ability.”
He also said that Logan was deeply upset after learning that his application to become an Eagle Scout has been denied.
“My son is hurt. Again we were expecting this to be a non-issue, to be able to go ahead and thrilled to have our down syndrome son to be an Eagle Scout. We were going to be elated, and thrilled to have it. For (the national council), and strip him of all the rank, it just blows a gasket, to say the least,” Chad said.
“He enjoyed participating with the local troupe and the boys. It was an opportunity for him to expand and grow and he did that…. Now he doesn’t even want to touch his scout uniform or go near it.”