Teen with Down syndrome can continue his quest to become an Eagle Scout, Boy Scouts of America says
Chad Blythe(PAYSON, Utah) — A Utah teen with Down syndrome whose parents said was stripped of his Boy Scout merit badges is now back on track to earning his Eagle Scout award.
An official for the Boy Scouts has assured the parents of 15-year-old Logan Blythe that his badges are still recognized and that the youth organization will take steps to help him succeed in the program, his parents said in a statement through their attorney, Ted McBride
The family — which lives south of Salt Lake City in Payson, Utah — had filed a lawsuit last month against the youth organization and the Utah National Parks Council, claiming that Logan was stripped of his badges and suspended from the program “due to physical and mental disabilities.”
In his quest for an Eagle Scout award, Logan had pitched a project involving him volunteering at a community hospital to deliver maternity gifts for newborns and their parents, according to the complaint. The pitch was approved by the Utah National Parks Council, only for it to be suspended the very next day.
In addition, the Utah National Parks Council told the Blythe family in an email that “although Logan had done his best in completing the required ‘merit badges,’ in the eyes of the Boy Scouts he had not achieved” any of them, the lawsuit stated.
Chad Blythe complained that his son was being discriminated against because without accommodations, there is no way he’d be able to earn the necessary merit badges to earn an Eagle Scout award.
Last week, Boy Scouts of America Commissioner Charles Dahlquist reached out to the family last week to let them know that “Logan’s merit badges do count, and his Eagle [Scout] project has been approved,” Blythe told ABC News today.
Although the pitch had been suspended, the family had decided to go ahead with it anyway because of the time and money they had invested in it — and to also help Logan process his disappointment, Blythe said.
Logan completed the project in December. Now, all he has to do to become an Eagle Scout is submit the final paperwork.
“That will give him his Eagle Scout [award],” Blythe said.
During the call with Dahlquist, Blythe detailed several issues he and Logan have encountered with the program, and the father has taken notice that the organization has already “made a few small changes” since then.
One change so far is the implementation of a request form on the website for Boy Scouts to request alternative methods to earning merit badges. For example, a swimming merit badge typically requires the Scout to dive to the bottom of the pool to earn it. Instead, the challenge would pose a comparable requirement, such as the Scout holding his or her breath under water for five seconds to earn the badge, Blythe said.
The Boy Scouts of America said it is “inspired by Logan and his family’s commitment to Scouting” and are “so glad he will remain remain part” of the Scouting community.
“We appreciate the care taken by the family’s attorney to bring the best outcome for Logan and look forward to working with the family toward our shared goal of ensuring Logan can receive his Eagle Scout rank in a way that is empowering for him,” the statement read. “Moving forward, we are committed to avoiding this type of misunderstanding and will take appropriate steps to ensure it is known that Scouts with disabilities are welcome, celebrated and empowered through Scouting.”
The family may wait until mid-summer to complete Logan’s final process to becoming an Eagle Scout, though, Blythe said. For now, the teen is still celebrating the silver medal in basketball he recently won at the Utah Special Olympics.
“We’ll probably take a look at it again and ask him if he wants to do it and see if he’s willing to participate,” Blythe said.
Blythe added that he hopes the changes they have seen so far continues and thanked the public for the support they received after filing the lawsuit.
“It’s the public’s attention that got the Boy Scouts’ attention,” he said.
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