Boy Scout With Down Syndrome and Autism Stripped of His Badges

State   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 21, 2018   |   5:50PM   |   Washington, DC

A Utah family is advocating for their son with Down syndrome after a decision by the Boy Scouts to reject the teen’s merit badges.

The Autism Site reports Logan Blythe, 15, of Utah, has Down syndrome and autism; and his local scout troop made accommodations for him to participate in activities and earn badges.

A scout for more than three years, Blythe recently began working on his Eagle Scout. Aptly, for his service project, the teen decided to create kits to give to special needs babies and their families at hospitals in his area, according to the report.

However, Blythe’s father, Chad, told Yahoo News that they were informed a day later that Logan’s project had been suspended. He said the national scout leaders claimed Logan had not fulfilled his badge requirements because of the special accommodations made for his disabilities.

“For example, if a task is cooking and the instructions are to pour a cup of flour, Logan won’t stop pouring,” Chad Blythe said. “In situations like that, the local chapter has awarded him a badge regardless, for his effort.

“The national office looked into how Logan had earned his badges and decided that he didn’t really meet the requirements,” he continued. “The National Parks Council said their hands were tied and they apologized for letting Logan advance so many levels.”

Chad Blythe said he checked regularly with the local scout leaders about the accommodations and never hid how Logan completed the tasks.

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The family filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America and the National Parks Council, asking them to change their discriminatory policy. Blythe says the lawsuit was about his son’s honor. “I want the Boy Scouts to change its policy. They should reinstate Logan’s badges and acknowledge the fact that not all boys have the same capabilities.”

A Boy Scouts of America spokesperson said they worked with the local committee and Logan’s family to offer a way for him to earn his Eagle Scout award, the top honor for Boy Scouts.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

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“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,” the spokesperson added.

The Blythe family said they want Logan to have the same opportunities as other children.

March 21 is World Down Syndrome Day, a day set aside to recognize the value of people with the disability. Though people with Down syndrome and their families often face discrimination, the outlook for people with Down syndrome is better than it ever has been. Their life expectancies have expanded, thanks to modern medicine; and many now are graduating from high school and some even college. Ultimately, though, no matter how long their lives are or what their abilities are, people with Down syndrome are valuable human beings worthy of dignity and respect.