Chad Blythe recalled just how happy his son was after learning that his Eagle Scout project had been approved in November.
“When we actually got the approval, he was so elated,” Blythe told Fox13, “and the three people that approved it actually took pictures of it because he was so happy and overjoyed.”
Logan Blythe, 15, who has Down syndrome and autism, has dreamed of reaching the highest rank in Boy Scouts, his father says. The teenager joined a chapter run by the Utah National Park Council, which gave Logan some leeway as he worked to obtain merit badges.
“For example, if a task is cooking and the instructions are to pour a cup of flour, Logan won’t stop pouring,” Chad Blythe explained to Yahoo Lifestyle. “In situations like that, the local chapter has awarded him a badge regardless, for his effort.”
That didn’t fly with the national Boy Scouts, according to a lawsuit Chad Blythe filed. It alleges that the Boy Scouts essentially revoked the over 20 badges his son earned during his time in the group, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, because the rules for earning them weren’t followed as written.
The local council sent Chad Blythe a letter that it had “been asked to suspend Logan’s Eagle Project approval” — and then an email that apologized for “any false hope we have given,” according to KSLTV.
Because of that decision, Logan could no longer give care kits to babies at a local hospital for his Eagle Scout project, the Tribune reported. Chad Blythe said the reversal was hurtful, especially because some in the local council said Logan could advance with his peers.
“All those [badges], he just literally did the best he could,” he said to the Tribune, “and our local leaders accepted it and were happy with it.”
The lawsuit only seeks $1 in damages, according to KSLTV, as Chad Blythe said he is hoping to change national policy in the scouting organization.
Ted McBride, an attorney for the Blythe family, said the decision to strictly adhere to written rules makes no sense in light of other steps the Boy Scouts has taken to be more inclusive.
“The local Utah people did not want to enforce this discriminatory policy, but regrettably that turned out to be a bad decision for them,” McBride told KSLTV. “The Boy Scouts have made accommodations for those who identify as transgender, they have even accepted girls into the Boy Scouts, and they are going to fight this?
“For what? To protect the prestigious Eagle Scout badge?”
In a statement, the scouting organization said “since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has served youth members with physical, mental, and emotional disabilities.
“Scouting is uniquely positioned among youth programs to meet the needs of Scouts with disabilities by providing diverse programs and social experiences,” it continued. “The Utah National Parks Council has worked closely with this young man and his family to deliver a positive experience in our programs.”
Effie Delimarkos, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts, told the Tribune that her organization is allowing Logan “a path to earning alternative merit badges based on his abilities.” She added that he will able to pursue requirements for the badges after he turns 18, the cutoff date for reaching the honor. She pushed back against the notion that the Boy Scouts had discriminated against the teenager, saying that only six percent of scouts will ever rise to the lauded rank of Eagle.
“It is the highest rank,” she told the newspaper. “It is very prestigious, but it’s not by any means the only way to experience the program and to benefit from the program.”
For the sake of fairness, it’s also important to require all scouts to go through similar steps when working to become an Eagle Scout, Delimarkos added to the Tribune.
But Chad Blythe told Fox13 that the organization could do more to include children like Logan.
“There are plenty of instances where there are kids out there that just can’t do certain things,” he said. “That doesn’t mean they get excluded from it.”
No matter what happens with the lawsuit, Chad Blythe said, his son has lost interest in the one activity that brought him so much joy.
“He won’t put on his scout uniform now,” Blythe said to Fox13. “He doesn’t want to go near it.”