PAYSON, Utah -- The father of a boy who has Down syndrome is suing the Boys Scouts of America, saying the organization blocked his son from becoming an Eagle scout and revoked his merit badges.
Logan Blythe has been a scout through the National Parks Council in Utah. His father, Chad, says the 15-year-old has advanced because the council has made accommodations when necessary.
VIDEO: Logan's father issues statement on YouTube
He had planned to create kits for special-needs babies for his Eagle project, when the family learned the national organization voided every merit badge he obtained.
"Logan Blythe...was subsequently suspended due to physical and mental disabilities which limit his ability to meet the BSA's draconian advancement requirements," attorney Ted McBride said in a statement. "Although the BSA holds itself out as accommodating disabled children, this suit demonstrates that their practices violate their stated purpose."
The family said Logan planned and prepared for his Eagle Scout Project, where he would be volunteering at a community hospital delivering maternity gifts for newborns and their parents. They said the Utah National Park Council approved the project in November and held a ceremony/celebration to acknowledge Logan's perseverance, willpower and inspiration, but the next day, they received an email from the District Advancement Committee suspending Logan's Eagle Project approval.
The email read, in part, "Please do not do any more work on his project...When National was contacted about the possible alternates, we were told that for Star (sic) Life and Eagle Ranks, there are no alternates. The young man MUST do the requirements as written, including leadership responsibilities...I never should have allowed this to be approved for the above reasons. I sincerely apologize and regret any false hope we have given."
The family sued the Boy Scouts and the Utah National Parks Council for "outrageous and reckless conduct."
The Boy Scouts says it worked with the council and the Blythe family to offer "alternative merit badges" and a path to becoming an Eagle. Here is the full text of the Boy Scouts of America statement:
"We want to be clear - the option to earn the rank of Eagle Scout has been - and still is - available to Logan. 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. The Boy Scouts of America is committed to making sure every Scout benefits from the program and has the opportunity to earn the Eagle Scout rank. The process of achieving the Eagle Scout rank is rigorous for any Scout, but it is designed so that accommodations can be made for Scouts with disabilities or special needs. The National Disabilities Advancement Team wants to work directly with the Blythe family to review what Logan has accomplished based on his abilities and help determine a path to earn the Eagle Scout rank that is both appropriate and empowering for him. The BSA handbook states 'Alternatives are not available for the Star, Life, and Eagle rank requirements.' Scouts may request approval for alternative merit badges, but the other requirements for those three ranks must be fulfilled as written. It is important to remember that the advancement program is meant to challenge our members; however, not all of them can achieve everything they might want to - with or without a disability. It is for this reason all Scouts are required to meet the requirements as they are written, with no exceptions."
McBride released a statement in response:
"This statement contradicts their policies and actions. Look at their website. No accommodations for mental disabilities for those badges. If they are now going to change their policies, that's terrific. But no one has contacted me about this. It appears that they are more interested in spinning some positive press. If they were sincere, I would have expected them to call me and change their policy. Logan deserves an apology. Not a generic statement to the public which fails to state that they have no alternatives for him."
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.