The Boy Scouts of America is facing major criticism after Chad Blythe, the father of Logan, a scout with Down syndrome, announced he is suing the organization for alleged discrimination. Blythe says the group will not allow his son to keep his merit badges or advance to Eagle Scout because his disability has kept him from meeting certain requirements. Blythe calls this “the very definition of discrimination.”
Logan, 15, has been with the Boy Scouts for several years, but his Eagle Project was suddenly suspended and his badges were taken away, according to his father's lawyer Edward McBride.
The family is suing the Boy Scouts and the Utah National Parks Council for “outrageous and reckless conduct.”
Last November, the Blythes were reportedly told in an email from the district advancement committee that Logan should stop working on his project, because previously agreed to modifications would not be accepted. Those with disabilities are eligible for Eagle Scout Rank Merit Badges only if they've had a formal application approved.
Boy Scouts of America released a statement Tuesday, claiming that Logan Blythe still was eligible for the rank of Eagle Scout and had not had merit badges taken away from him.
“We apologize for the confusion and want to be very clear: the option to earn the rank of Eagle Scout has been – and still is – available to Logan,” they write. “We remain inspired by his dedication to Scouting, and we hope to continue working with Logan and his family to support him in the effort to earn the rank of Eagle Scout through the engagement of our National Disabilities Advancement Team.”
“Logan still has the merit badges he worked on,” the group added.
The Associated Press reports that Debby Roberts, a Boy Scouts of America official, apologized in an email to the family.
“I sincerely apologize and regret any false hope we have given,” she wrote. “I hope that you will consider keeping Logan registered beyond his 18th birthday, in hopes that someday perhaps he can communicate with others through future technology or what have you.”
“The project was declined, but that doesn’t mean his path was declined,” the group’s spokesman, Effie Delimarkos, said. “We do support scouts with special needs and disabilities and have for a very long time.”
The Blythe family denies that they have been contacted by the Boy Scouts of America about the issue.
Blythe’s Eagle Scout project, according to ABC, would have “involved him volunteering at a community hospital to deliver maternity gifts for newborns and their parents, according to the complaint, filed on March 13 in the Utah 4th District Court.”