Utah National Parks Counsel Accommodates Utah teen with Down Syndrome, only to have the National BSA Reverse that Decision
Salt Lake City, March 17, 2018—On Tuesday, March 13, 2018, I filed a Complaint against the Boy Scouts of America and the Utah National Parks Council on behalf of Logan Blythe, a young boy with Down Syndrome, who, after having been accepted into the Boy Scouts of America, was subsequently suspended due to physical and mental disabilities which limit his ability to meet the BSA’s draconian advancement requirements. Although the BSA holds itself out as accommodating disabled children, this suit demonstrates that their practices violate their stated purpose.
Logan is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints where much of the social, religious and community opportunities involve participating in the Boy Scouts of America.
After confirming with the Utah National Park Council that Logan would be accommodated and able to fully participate in the program, Logan was enrolled and, over the course of several years enjoyed the benefits of participation with boys his age. He was awarded a variety of merit badges and was elated to be part of the group. Naturally, his parents were relieved and excited as well.
Logan wanted more than anything to earn his Eagle Scout Award. Logan, with the help of his father, 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.
On November 9, 2017, the UNCP approved his project and held a ceremony/celebration to acknowledge his perseverance, willpower and inspiration.
On November 10, 2017, the Blythes received an Email from the District Advancement Committee suspending Logan’s Eagle Project approval stating:
“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.”
Without accommodation, Logan’s prior badges were stripped as well. Logan is noticeably depressed and, the uniform and badges that he once proudly displayed, he now becomes visibly upset simply observing them.
A civil lawsuit was filed in the Utah 4th District Court, Provo Division, in which he and his family allege one cause of action for “intentional infliction of emotional distress.”
Attorney Ted McBride:
“Although we cannot change the BSA national policy directly with this lawsuit, because the BSA is a private organization which can promulgate its own policies, discriminatory or not, we are hopeful that this suit raises public awareness of his treatment so that others similarly situated don’t face the same shame and disappointment that this has caused Logan and his family.”
“There is great irony in this case. The Utah National Parks Counsel’s actions directly conflict with the BSA national organization. I firmly believe that good people of Utah know in their minds and hearts that the BSA policy is morally and ethically wrong. In my opinion, the BSA policy conflicts with those promulgated by the Church of Latter Day Saints.”
“The BSA has lost its way. It’s mind boggling that an organization dedicated to teaching young men (and now young women) morals, discipline, work ethic and compassion, is now teaching its members that discrimination is acceptable.”
“Are they doing this to “protect the prestige” of the award? And, if that’s the case, I’d like to know if Bill Gates, Donald Rumsfeld, Ross Perot, Rick Perry, Neil Armstrong, to name just a few, would feel that their achievement of Eagle Scout would somehow be diminished if the BSA accommodated mentally disable kids. I like to think that the answer is a resounding “No”.
“This suit, and the apparent schism between the Utah Chapter and the National Chapter, underscores the fact that Utah values no longer comport with BSA values.”