A Boy Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
But apparently a Boy Scout is not disabled.
The Boy Scouts of America organization technically claims that, “Youth with physical disabilities and youth and adults with developmental or cognitive challenges are welcome in the Boy Scouts of America.”
Unless they try to earn the highest rank of Eagle. That’s what Logan Blythe, who has Down syndrome, learned recently when the national BSA reversed a decision by a local chapter to accept his plan for his Eagle project. Even worse, the national organization voided every merit badge Blythe has earned since the time he was a Cub Scout, and told him to start over.
Blythe’s parents have filed a discrimination lawsuit against the organization.
If it’s really true that Blythe can’t be an Eagle Scout, then the national organization has lost its way and ignored its own oath. Because there is no question that a boy with Down syndrome can promise: “to do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
In its defense, the BSA claims that rules require that merit badges be given only when all requirements are met “as stated.” Those who cannot meet certain requirements are encouraged to submit requests to complete alternative badges. But “alternatives are not available for the Star, Life and Eagle rank requirements.”
A few days after Blythe’s story hit the media, the national BSA issued a news release claiming that “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.”
Except that national officials haven't contacted Blythe to apologize or assure him his work will be accepted. Instead, he now has to work with the National Disabilities Advancement Team to “determine a path” forward.
Blythe’s mom characterizes the challenge aptly: “Another thing we can’t do. I’m tired of it.”
In fact, Logan Blythe has completed the requirements to be an Eagle Scout — he has earned it. He has learned the lessons the BSA set out to teach him, as advertised on the front of its national webpage: “Some kids avoid obstacles. Scouts overcome them.”
Logan Blythe will overcome the obstacle the BSA has placed in front of him, whether through hard work, litigation or both.
Because Logan Blythe is a Boy Scout.