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Boy Scout with Downs Syndrome article


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I’m always a little wary of making judgments about articles like this. I feel like often there is more to the story than is portrayed in the press. And I’m not necessarily more sympathetic to big organizations, but I do think that it’s easier for an individual to appear sympathetic and for judgments to be made without really hearing all the details of what happened. 

 

For example, I’m not sure what it means that his Merit Badges were voided. Did they ask for him to physically return the badge? That would be cruel. Did they say they didn’t count towards the Eagle requirements...also upsetting but perhaps less cruel and more understandable depending on how they were earned. They mention offering a path to alternative badges to the parents. It’s not entirely clear what that means. It could be “start over†or it could be “he needs to also do these things in order to say he earned the badge for Eagleâ€. Those would be different. 

 

It also struck me that he’s only 15. Many kids don’t earn their Eagle until almost 18 and I believe there is precedent for allowing kids with disabilities to have “indefinite time†to work on Eagle. 

 

It looked to me that the BSA didn’t close the door completely, but instead said there were other things he needed to do and the parents are saying those aren’t fair. It’s hard to know without knowing all the details. The BSA does come out as being mean and insensitive, but I feel like that happens often in the media and may not always be fair (not just to the BSA but to any organization where the story is “little guy vs. big groupâ€.) 

 

 

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So this was our experience with a situation on the SM side.  Dh was the SM for our (LDS) troop for 5 years.  He has all the training up through Wood badge even though we have not had a scout aged boy until last year.  During his time as SM, in our troop was a boy on the autism spectrum.  The parents were informed (ad nauseum) about the appropriate accommodations that could be made for each merit badge being worked on as a troop.  The mom was insistent that her son earn all the merit badges without accommodations just by showing up.  She felt that if he showed up to the weekly troop meetings & the monthly merit badge class he should get the merit badge along with the other boys.  For example she expected that he would earn the swimming merit badge because he had shown up for the merit badge classes without ever getting into the pool.  She didn't want the accommodations that were offered.  This mom was so persistent that she wore down troop leaders &  merit badge counselors, and blue cards were being signed.  Unfortunately, she ran into Dh at the SM conferences for advancement.  It wasn't pretty.  She threatened legal action against my husband. 

 

My hope would be for the young man in the article that his merit badges would be reviewed with an eye for accommodation.  I would hope that there would be ways that the work he has already done for each merit badge could be considered and appropriate activities could be planned for him by merit badge counselors to complete each merit badge.  I also know scouts whose eagle project idea has been rejected, re-thought, reviewed, rejected, re-thought, etc, until the project was acceptable.  I hope that will be the case for this young man.  His project needs to be tweaked & reworked by the scout and an adult leader who understands this scout's abilities and the appropriate accommodations that can be made while still remaining within the rules.  Together they should come up with a plan for the scout to succeed.  There is time for these things to be worked out.

 

Amber in SJ

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This thread is making me glad my SN child is a girl and in an organization that is far less bureaucratic than BSA. I don’t know if she will be capable of planning and carrying out a Gold Award project but if she does not earn it it won’t be because National has decided to nitpick all her badges.

 

 

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This thread is making me glad my SN child is a girl and in an organization that is far less bureaucratic than BSA. I don’t know if she will be capable of planning and carrying out a Gold Award project but if she does not earn it it won’t be because National has decided to nitpick all her badges.

 

 

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You think girl scouts is less bureaucratic? Not my experience at all. DD did brownies through finishing her bronze award and then dropped it to focus solely on 4H.

 

Her years of girl scout participation were definitely filled with bureaucracy and rigid rule following that made no sense. One example was counselors at gs camp not allowing DD to go to the latrine alone, but not getting her a partner to go. How do you let a 8 year old wet her pants twice in one week because you have a procedure. DD never went to go camp again. She did go camping with her troop and she did go to other overnight camps. DD encountered similar inflexible adherence to procedure throughout her time in girl scouts.

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And the official word from BSA: (lots of the article was bunk, as suspected)

U.S. Scouting Service Project (USSSP)

3 mins ·

There has been a lot of really weird stories concerning a Scout with Downs Syndrome who was working toward Eagle Scout. As a result, many Scouters thought that somehow the Scouting program was making a turn away from the disability community in this nation. Nothing further from the truth.

For the OFFICIAL record, here's the text from this evening's Scouting newsroom blog. Please share this along with the link provided below...and to those of you who reached out to us asking us to interviene, thank each one of you and know that we have done what we could to forward your and our concerns to the appropriate offices at the BSA's National Center...

(Settummanque/Mike Walton)

-------------

BSA Clears Up Misconceptions About Path to Eagle Scout Rank for Scout with Downs

Many local volunteers and Scouting professionals at the Utah National Parks Council have worked closely with Boy Scout Logan Blythe and his family to deliver a positive experience in our programs.

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.

Since its founding, 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 children with special needs by providing diverse programs and social experiences.

At its core, Scouting fosters the spirit of diversity and inclusiveness, and we are committed to continuing the Boy Scouts of America’s long history of working with Scouts with disabilities, including Logan Blythe, to help them succeed in and beyond Scouting.

FAQ

Were Logan’s merit badges revoked?

No, Logan still has the merit badges he worked on.

Was Logan demoted to a Cub Scout?

No, Logan is still registered as a Boy Scout.

Will Logan be able to earn his Eagle Scout rank?

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 for him to earn the Eagle Scout rank that is both appropriate and empowering for their situation.

 

BSA Clears Up Misconceptions About Path to Eagle Scout Rank for Utah Scout With Down Syndrome - Scouting Newsroom

SCOUTINGNEWSROOM.ORG

This reads like a press release (one that makes a couple of key blunders to boot) and doesn’t take responsibility for whatever it is that the Blythe family reacted to in their email. I feel like we still don’t know what happened. If the family is so dedicated to scouts, I’m inclined to believe them when they say their son doesn’t want to go and when they say his merit badges were essentially nullified.

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And the official word from BSA:  (lots of the article was bunk, as suspected)

 

Wait...why should we assume everything the BA states in its "official" release is 100% truthful?  This is the organization that kept sealed files protecting predators for decades so it isn't like they are above reproach.

 

 

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You think girl scouts is less bureaucratic? Not my experience at all. DD did brownies through finishing her bronze award and then dropped it to focus solely on 4H.

 

Her years of girl scout participation were definitely filled with bureaucracy and rigid rule following that made no sense. One example was counselors at gs camp not allowing DD to go to the latrine alone, but not getting her a partner to go. How do you let a 8 year old wet her pants twice in one week because you have a procedure. DD never went to go camp again. She did go camping with her troop and she did go to other overnight camps. DD encountered similar inflexible adherence to procedure throughout her time in girl scouts.

The “buddy†rule is for safety reasons and just plain common sense. Girls should not be wandering off by themselves. My daughter’s school has a similar rule for their students.

 

 

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The “buddy†rule is for safety reasons and just plain common sense. Girls should not be wandering off by themselves. My daughter’s school has a similar rule for their students.

 

 

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One example of stupid decisions. And think about it how long do you wait to find a buddy? And once you've blown it with a kid do you make the same mistake again a couple days later because humiliation is fun for 8 year olds.

 

I'm not going to go through the list from 6 years of gs. Both my boys were/are in boy scouts. I don't have a similar list from their experiences.

 

My DD did have a nice leader, who was also heavily involved in boy scouts. She had a venture crew that was just older girls from the girl scout troop. They started doing everything under the auspices of venture crew. Too much red tape to do stuff as girl scouts.

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So this was our experience with a situation on the SM side.  Dh was the SM for our (LDS) troop for 5 years.  He has all the training up through Wood badge even though we have not had a scout aged boy until last year.  During his time as SM, in our troop was a boy on the autism spectrum.  The parents were informed (ad nauseum) about the appropriate accommodations that could be made for each merit badge being worked on as a troop.  The mom was insistent that her son earn all the merit badges without accommodations just by showing up.  She felt that if he showed up to the weekly troop meetings & the monthly merit badge class he should get the merit badge along with the other boys.  For example she expected that he would earn the swimming merit badge because he had shown up for the merit badge classes without ever getting into the pool.  She didn't want the accommodations that were offered.  This mom was so persistent that she wore down troop leaders &  merit badge counselors, and blue cards were being signed.  Unfortunately, she ran into Dh at the SM conferences for advancement.  It wasn't pretty.  She threatened legal action against my husband. 

 

My hope would be for the young man in the article that his merit badges would be reviewed with an eye for accommodation.  I would hope that there would be ways that the work he has already done for each merit badge could be considered and appropriate activities could be planned for him by merit badge counselors to complete each merit badge.  I also know scouts whose eagle project idea has been rejected, re-thought, reviewed, rejected, re-thought, etc, until the project was acceptable.  I hope that will be the case for this young man.  His project needs to be tweaked & reworked by the scout and an adult leader who understands this scout's abilities and the appropriate accommodations that can be made while still remaining within the rules.  Together they should come up with a plan for the scout to succeed.  There is time for these things to be worked out.

 

Amber in SJ

 

 

 

 

And as I've worked with 100's of Scouter volunteers, to a one, I've seen that they have the best interest of their Scouts at heart. The media has blown this up, without getting all the information. But, folks don't want to hear that--they want "the story". 

 

 

What worries me most is that with this blow-up, volunteers are going to take another hit.  Leaders are going to think, why bother?  Participating in Boy Scouts is a huge time commitment for leaders, and even good leaders occasionally make mistakes.  I'm not sure where the initial mistake was made with this situation -- was it a pushy parent who wasn't counseled about rules at the early stages?  Was it a scout leader who wanted to do good without checking protocol?  And if scout leaders at the unit level make a mistake, should National automatically just let standards slide?  Whatever the situation, this story did not deserve to be made into national news. It's an unfortunate event, but it seems like, even from the early news stories, that the scouting organization is trying to work it out.  It sounds like the dad just does not like the solution.  I find this story to be just another jab at the Boy Scouts because the media loves to put them down.  

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One example of stupid decisions. And think about it how long do you wait to find a buddy? And once you've blown it with a kid do you make the same mistake again a couple days later because humiliation is fun for 8 year olds.

Eh, it’s on the leaders in this example and not the Girl Scouts or the buddy rule. Scout y needs to go to the bathroom and needs a buddy. She tells the leader she needs to go to the bathroom, leader says girl x go with girl y. Problem solved. It happens all the time with our troop. Since we have Cadets to Brownies, often a Cadet goes with as a buddy, but two Brownies can go. If you have a buddy already identified, tell the leader and head off. If you don’t, in about two seconds the leader can arrange it.

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Eh, it’s on the leaders in this example and not the Girl Scouts or the buddy rule. Scout y needs to go to the bathroom and needs a buddy. She tells the leader she needs to go to the bathroom, leader says girl x go with girl y. Problem solved. It happens all the time with our troop. Since we have Cadets to Brownies, often a Cadet goes with as a buddy, but two Brownies can go. If you have a buddy already identified, tell the leader and head off. If you don’t, in about two seconds the leader can arrange it.

Again read the rest of the post. I have many more examples. But the thread isn't about problems with girl scouts. So I'm not going to there with their bureaucracy.

 

I'm just saying the idea that you can avoid levels of bureaucracy in girl scouts is silly.

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Well, first off, no boy would be demoted in rank to Cub Scouts. That's not how the programs work. 

 

And as I've worked with 100's of Scouter volunteers, to a one, I've seen that they have the best interest of their Scouts at heart. The media has blown this up, without getting all the information. But, folks don't want to hear that--they want "the story". 

 

I can't find where the family claimed he was demoted to Cub Scouts in the article. 

 

Your personal experience doesn't mean the press release is 100% accurate.  You obviously are taking the side of the Boy Scouts which is fine, but you can't claim everything the family says is a lie by simply pointing at the press release.  The Boy Scouts have lied and committed quite a few reprehensible acts over the years (some of their behavior covering up for pedophiles was downright criminal) so it isn't reasonable to expect people to just accept their word. It's also a bit silly to think a press release is always 100% truthful.

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As I've stated over and over, Logan was let down. Let's move forward and fix it, allowing him to achieve what he can achieve, whilst following the policies and rules as written, as the parents agreed to when they signed him up.

 

Sounds like that ship has sailed, BSA press release or not.  Now we can see it play out in court and see which side is telling the truth.

 

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As a legal matter, I am not sure the court has jurisdiction to tell BSA what to do about merit badges and eagle awards.

 

Is there precedent for this sort of thing being fought in court?

 

BSA is obligated to follow ADA, just like other organizations, and section 504 when it benefits from federal government funding such as meeting in a public school building.  

 

The question here is whether the organization has been discriminatory.  Since disability is a protected class, it's absolutely an appropriate question to bring to court.  

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I'm in the situation of working with accommodations for mbs on a regular basis. (I'm the District Advancement Chair). What has happened, many times, is that the boy's parents don't want to go through the process.Now, the accommodations can be applied for (written form from an MD and then it goes to Council) and received. And THEN the mb can be earned. https://filestore.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/33088.pdf See section 10. 

 

My other guess on what happened is that registered mb counselors were not used. Was each mb counselor registered and had he received training? Quite possibly not.

 

And the article made it seem that the boy and his parents worked on the Eagle project together. Nope. The project has to be conceived of, and developed BY THE BOY! I just had a conversation with a boy not an hour ago--nope, you're not ready. All the paperwork is not filled out, so you can not begin. And no, I won't chat with your parents about it. It's YOUR Eagle, not theirs. 

 

An epic fail? Not on BSA's part if the boy and his parents didn't follow the procedure. 

 

Right, but there was no way that was solely on the boy and his parents. A leader signed off on those merit badges. A district or council leader signed off on the eagle project plan. An eagle board was convened and three people signed off on that paperwork before it was sent to National.

 

As a leader, I have found the training (on the district and council level) about working on MB and projects with accommodations really poor.  It's always been the, "I think there is a contact at Council for disabilities."  How the actual guidelines should play out is not communicated effectively.

 

And, to be honest, how many merit badges actually go through registered merit badge counselors at your current Council? At my previous Council, I'm guessing less than half.  It's very rare, IME, unless someone is super diligent about it to have the boy initiate the process with a blue card, get that approved, get him assigned to a registered merit badge counselor, and do the proper followups....  I stirred up a lot of water, as advancement chair, when I stepped in and began requiring those things.  I got a lot of negative feedback, and when we moved this fall, I did not register as a leader with a new Council.

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BSA is obligated to follow ADA, just like other organizations, and section 504 when it benefits from federal government funding such as meeting in a public school building.  

 

The question here is whether the organization has been discriminatory.  Since disability is a protected class, it's absolutely an appropriate question to bring to court.  

 

OK, so if there are procedures that the boy / his parents chose to ignore, that is one thing, but if it comes out that the BSA really did not make accommodations available on a reasonable basis, that is another....

 

Sounds like they do have accommodations and other boys with Down syndrome have gotten eagle.  Sounds like the local BSA folks screwed it up, but it is not a fatal error as the boy is still years younger than many typical boys who make eagle.  The boy should still be able to make eagle once the correct accommodations are provided.

 

The fact that BSA rejects plenty of eagle projects of typical boys should work in BSA's favor, I think.  Being given a "do over" does not sound discriminatory under the circumstances.  Though I don't have all the facts, of course.

 

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My kids are in AHG and I've been looking over the requirements for its highest award (Stars and Stripes).  My kids are of normal to above-normal intelligence / work ethic, and yet it would be a stretch for them to get their stars & stripes before age 17.  My nephew was 16 IIRC and he was one of the youngest around to get his eagle.  So I may be a bit biased about this boy suing because he isn't getting his eagle at 15.  But again, maybe there is more to the story.

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BSA is obligated to follow ADA, just like other organizations, and section 504 when it benefits from federal government funding such as meeting in a public school building.  

 

The question here is whether the organization has been discriminatory.  Since disability is a protected class, it's absolutely an appropriate question to bring to court.  

 

 

So, this is an interesting question I think. 

 

What does that mean? Is it enough to include Scouts with disabilities in all activities of the troop and to provide opportunities to earn merit badges, etc. in ways that are appropriate to that Scout? Or does it meant that there might be circumstances where a disability means that that particular individual cannot achieve the exact same things that others without that disability can achieve. 

 

For example, a school has to (and should) provide accommodations for all students as far as academics. But if a student who had a disability tried out for basketball and didn’t make the team, they don’t have to allow them to play. Same would be true of theater or the academic team or orchestra or whatever. (And not just for kids for disabilities, true for anyone that tries out and doesn’t make it..they aren’t given an alternative activity.) 

 

Is Scouts similar? They provide paths to Eagle for those with disabilities. But is there a point where it’s ok to say that you can be part of the organization and fully participate in every way but perhaps will not make Eagle? After all, most kids that do Scouts don’t get all the way to Eagle and many find value in the activity without that final step. 

 

I genuinely don’t know the answers to the above...either legally or what I think ethically. I don’t know enough about the details of the ADA. And it’s more of a broader question than a comment on this specific situation. 

 

ETA: I know a lot of people on this board have kids with disabilities. I hope this post doesn’t sound insensitive. I’m not trying to argue for exclusion at all. I’m just trying to educate myself. 

 

Edited by Alice
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Right, what about public schools where you have to pass certain college-prep courses to get a "diploma" vs. a "certificate of completion"?  How is that allowed?  (Honestly that bugs me.  But I haven't heard of it being legally challenged.)

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OK, so if there are procedures that the boy / his parents chose to ignore, that is one thing, but if it comes out that the BSA really did not make accommodations available on a reasonable basis, that is another....

 

Sounds like they do have accommodations and other boys with Down syndrome have gotten eagle.  Sounds like the local BSA folks screwed it up, but it is not a fatal error as the boy is still years younger than many typical boys who make eagle.  The boy should still be able to make eagle once the correct accommodations are provided.

 

The fact that BSA rejects plenty of eagle projects of typical boys should work in BSA's favor, I think.  Being given a "do over" does not sound discriminatory under the circumstances.  Though I don't have all the facts, of course.

 

 

Of course, none of us know the whole story.

 

I think that it's important to note that every individual with Down syndrome is unique, and the accommodations they need are unique as well.  So, the fact that a set of accommodations has worked for one person with Down syndrome, or many people with Down syndrome, doesn't tell us whether or not that set of accommodations is appropriate for Logan.  

 

For example, people have mentioned hand cycles as the way that BSA accommodates people with physical disabilities, but a hand cycle is an accommodation that works for a very small subset of people with physical disabilities.  I can't think of a single student that I've worked with who would benefit from that particular accommodation, and I have worked with many students with physical disabilities.  

 

As far as your argument that not everyone chooses to get Eagle, or follows through and gets it, legally there's a distinction between not getting something because you made a choice, and not getting it because it's inaccessible or because you're discriminated against for your membership in a protected class.  

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So, this is an interesting question I think. 

 

What does that mean? Is it enough to include Scouts with disabilities in all activities of the troop and to provide opportunities to earn merit badges, etc. in ways that are appropriate to that Scout? Or does it meant that there might be circumstances where a disability means that that particular individual cannot achieve the exact same things that others without that disability can achieve. 

 

For example, a school has to (and should) provide accommodations for all students as far as academics. But if a student who had a disability tried out for basketball and didn’t make the team, they don’t have to allow them to play. Same would be true of theater or the academic team or orchestra or whatever. (And not just for kids for disabilities, true for anyone that tries out and doesn’t make it..they aren’t given an alternative activity.) 

 

Is Scouts similar? They provide paths to Eagle for those with disabilities. But is there a point where it’s ok to say that you can be part of the organization and fully participate in every way but perhaps will not make Eagle? After all, most kids that do Scouts don’t get all the way to Eagle and many find value in the activity without that final step. 

 

I genuinely don’t know the answers to the above...either legally or what I think ethically. I don’t know enough about the details of the ADA. And it’s more of a broader statement than a comment on this specific situation. 

 

Our local public schools are under a federal court order to provide equivalent sports opportunities for students with disabilities.  Section 504 and ESSA absolutely address extracurricular activities and require schools to accommodate students with disabilities in them.  

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The BSA's wording that the merit badges "Logan worked on" are still intact sounds like a classic press release dodge to me. The family says badges were revoked. It really sounds like the BSA revoked badges that they think he didn't work enough for.

 

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This thread is making me glad my SN child is a girl and in an organization that is far less bureaucratic than BSA. I don’t know if she will be capable of planning and carrying out a Gold Award project but if she does not earn it it won’t be because National has decided to nitpick all her badges.

 

 

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At the time my disabled DD earned her Gold, the way it worked was that all the requirements needed to BEGIN the gold project were already done and approved and earned at the troop and council level. Those requirements were simply listed on the Gold paperwork.

 

I'm sure someone will correct me but I don't think National was even involved.

 

DD worked with a Council assigned Gold award mentor who really pushed her as well as supported her. None of the requirements ended up needing to be adjusted but since DD was really sick throughout a lot of it, it was always a consideration and possibility to adjust things.

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Our local public schools are under a federal court order to provide equivalent sports opportunities for students with disabilities.  Section 504 and ESSA absolutely address extracurricular activities and require schools to accommodate students with disabilities in them.  

 

504 and ESSA require reasonable accommodations and do not automatically grant equal access to competitive sports.

 

Good summary of the related issues:

https://www.nfhs.org/articles/disabilities-law-and-reasonable-accommodations-in-sports/

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504 and ESSA require reasonable accommodations and do not automatically grant equal access to competitive sports.

 

Good summary of the related issues:

https://www.nfhs.org/articles/disabilities-law-and-reasonable-accommodations-in-sports/

Yes, and BSA isn’t a public school program so they absolutely don’t apply to BSA. BSA falls under ADA. ADA requires “reasonable†accommodations.

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The BSA's wording that the merit badges "Logan worked on" are still intact sounds like a classic press release dodge to me. The family says badges were revoked. It really sounds like the BSA revoked badges that they think he didn't work enough for.

Yep. It sounds like they are claiming the physical badges are still intact rather than clarifying if they are still being counted towards requirements. No one accused them of cutting up the badges with scissors.

 

My sons have both been cub scouts, my younger son still is. I just wrote a painfully large check for scout camp this summer. I’m not anti-scouting.

 

But my bs-meter is beeping loudly at the wording of the BSA’s press release. It is and continues to be a misstep.

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Yes, and BSA isn’t a public school program so they absolutely don’t apply to BSA. BSA falls under ADA. ADA requires “reasonable†accommodations.

 

True, but I was replying to a post that said, essentially, that since schools don't have to accommodate in sports or provide alternative activities, BSA wouldn't either. 

 

504 does apply to BSA depending on where the troop meets.  This troop is probably meeting at an LDS church, so it probably doesn't apply to them.  504 applies to organizations that benefits from federal fundings.  If BSA is benefiting from a public school building, a rec center etc . . .  then 504 does apply.  You are correct that ESSA doesn't.  

 

I think you can make an argument that a scout leader who gives you accurate information about how to earn merit badges, given a disability, is a reasonable accommodation.  It seems at least possible that Logan did not receive that, which is why I think the courts are the right place to decide this.

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True, but I was replying to a post that said, essentially, that since schools don't have to accommodate in sports or provide alternative activities, BSA wouldn't either.

 

504 does apply to BSA depending on where the troop meets. This troop is probably meeting at an LDS church, so it probably doesn't apply to them. 504 applies to organizations that benefits from federal fundings. If BSA is benefiting from a public school building, a rec center etc . . . then 504 does apply. You are correct that ESSA doesn't.

 

I think you can make an argument that a scout leader who gives you accurate information about how to earn merit badges, given a disability, is a reasonable accommodation. It seems at least possible that Logan did not receive that, which is why I think the courts are the right place to decide this.

I would assume that community groups using a school space are paying for it. I have rented school rooms for a variety of political, youth and community groups. We paid a fee and were certainly not covered by 504. A church can rent a high school gym, doesn’t make the church subject to all of the provisions of the fair labor standards.

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Yes, and BSA isn’t a public school program so they absolutely don’t apply to BSA. BSA falls under ADA. ADA requires “reasonable†accommodations.

 

I am not sure they actually fall under the scope of the ADA. It gets a little confusing as the BSA claims to be private when it suits them but also wants to be treated like a public organization.

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I would assume that community groups using a school space are paying for it. I have rented school rooms for a variety of political, youth and community groups. We paid a fee and were certainly not covered by 504. A church can rent a high school gym, doesn’t make the church subject to all of the provisions of the fair labor standards.

 

Correct.  I am involved with a sports group that rents public facilities via contract, and we frequently run into people wanting to challenge a decision under 504 or Title IX.  Usually those wouldn't be applicable anyway, but the issue is closed completely as we are 100% private.

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I am not sure they actually fall under the scope of the ADA. It gets a little confusing as the BSA claims to be private when it suits them but also wants to be treated like a public organization.

 

This is my understanding of the ADA:

 

Private/public isn't relevant to ADA. Requirements for compliance are based solely on the size of the employer and apply to for profit, not for profit and government organizations with fifteen or more employees. The ADA is very specific when it comes to accommodations of physical space and very general when it comes to programming accommodations. 

 

This is all ADA says regarding access to programs such as BSA: 

 

  • (b) Opportunity to participate. Notwithstanding the existence of separate or different programs or activities provided in accordance with this subpart, a public accommodation shall not deny an individual with a disability an opportunity to participate in such programs or activities that are not separate or different.

and

 

§ 36.302 Modifications in policies, practices, or procedures.
  • (a) General. A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when the modifications are necessary to afford goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.

and

 

 36.303 Auxiliary aids and services.
  • (a) General. A public accommodation shall take those steps that may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that taking those steps would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.

 

https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleIII_2010/titleIII_2010_regulations.htm

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I would assume that community groups using a school space are paying for it. I have rented school rooms for a variety of political, youth and community groups. We paid a fee and were certainly not covered by 504. A church can rent a high school gym, doesn’t make the church subject to all of the provisions of the fair labor standards.

 

In our area, after school programs like scouts don't pay, or at least they don't pay market rents.  It's possible that the law is different for an organization that contracts at a market rate. 

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This is my understanding of the ADA:

 

Private/public isn't relevant to ADA. Requirements for compliance are based solely on the size of the employer and apply to for profit, not for profit and government organizations with fifteen or more employees. The ADA is very specific when it comes to accommodations of physical space and very general when it comes to programming accommodations. 

 

This is all ADA says regarding access to programs such as BSA: 

 

  • (b) Opportunity to participate. Notwithstanding the existence of separate or different programs or activities provided in accordance with this subpart, a public accommodation shall not deny an individual with a disability an opportunity to participate in such programs or activities that are not separate or different.

and

 

§ 36.302 Modifications in policies, practices, or procedures.
  • (a) General. A public accommodation shall make reasonable modifications in policies, practices, or procedures, when the modifications are necessary to afford goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations to individuals with disabilities, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that making the modifications would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.

and

 

 36.303 Auxiliary aids and services.
  • (a) General. A public accommodation shall take those steps that may be necessary to ensure that no individual with a disability is excluded, denied services, segregated or otherwise treated differently than other individuals because of the absence of auxiliary aids and services, unless the public accommodation can demonstrate that taking those steps would fundamentally alter the nature of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations.

 

https://www.ada.gov/regs2010/titleIII_2010/titleIII_2010_regulations.htm

 

Actually it is a bit trickier than that, and yes, whether an organization (and associated facilities, if any) is truly private can (not always) matter, especially when it is an organization based on membership.  The Boy Scouts are a nonprofit volunteer organization and has generally been held to not be a public accommodation.

Title III:

Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities 

This title prohibits private places of public accommodation from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. Examples of public accommodations include privately-owned, leased or operated facilities like hotels, restaurants, retail merchants, doctor’s offices, golf courses, private schools, day care centers, health clubs, sports stadiums, movie theaters, and so on.  This title sets the minimum standards for accessibility for alterations and new construction of facilities. It also requires public accommodations to remove barriers in existing buildings where it is easy to do so without much difficulty or expense.  This title directs businesses to make "reasonable modifications" to their usual ways of doing things when serving people with disabilities. It also requires that they take steps necessary to communicate effectively with customers with vision, hearing, and speech disabilities.  This title is regulated and enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice.

https://adata.org/learn-about-ada

 

 

 

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I've been checking the local papers and news stations, following this story, because we are also in the Utah National Parks Council, and my aspie son is also in scouts.  (I'm a den leader in cub scouts.)

 

It's the Associated Press who is reporting that "the national organization voided every merit badge he had earned," not the family.  In their lawsuit, they are suing only "for blocking his son from becoming an Eagle Scout and revoking some of his merit badges."  I saw one quote this morning (which I can't find again) where the dad is supposed to have said that National "effectively took away" his badges, which isn't the same as actually taking them away.

 

Revoking them doesn't even seem likely logistically.  National got back to him in 24 hours.  There's no way they challenged all 22 badges in 24 hours.  That would require tracking down and interviewing all 22 Merit Badge counselors, many of whom probably aren't in scouts anymore.  (Otherwise, how would they even know he hadn't done every badge as written?)

 

National says they did not take away any badges in their newsroom post.  They also said it in a eZine for adult BSA leaders that I got in my inbox just this morning:  "Logan is still registered as a Boy Scout, and the merit badges he earned are still listed in the BSA’s advancement records."

 

What I suspect really happened is that he was missing some of the badges required on the eagle path, as outlined in Margaret's post.  (For instance, maybe he hasn't done Swimming or Hiking or Cycling, and has instead substituted something else from the required list, but from an unrelated category.  National probably told them those substitutions don't count as required badges (they'd still count as electives), and Dad probably took that as saying they were revoking them.

 

When his dad was interviewed on KSL, Utah's main news radio station, what he said there was, â€œWhen National (BSA) was contacted about possible alternates, we were told that for Star Life Eagle Ranks, there are no alternates. The young man must do the requirements as written, including leadership responsibilities.â€

 

I can see Mom and Dad taking that as meaning you must do each Merit Badge exactly as written, but National actually meaning you have to meet all the rank requirements.

 

From the eZine:

 

Logan’s story raised some questions about this line from Page 79 of the Guide to Advancement:

“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.â€

 

That's a whole different thing, having nothing to do with Merit Badges.  I know, because my Aspie son is heading for Star, that one of the requirements for that rank is serving for four months in some kind of youth leadership position, such as as a Den Chief, or Patrol Leader.  The wording of what National is supposed to have told this boy's dad suggests he hasn't met the leadership requirement.

 
 

,

The Scout would be able (most likely) to earn the Sports mb. However, it is not an Eagle-required mb, so alternative requirements are not available. I could see how the Sports mb could be earned doing adaptive skiing whilst still following the requirements. However the sport must be okayed by the mb counselor, NOT mom and dad, in advance. There are 2-3 Eagle-required mb options in several categories. BECAUSE they are Eagle-requireds, there are alternative requirements IF the Scout has been identified as needing those. So, the boy can do Swimming OR Hiking OR Cycling. So, a boy who could not pass the Swimming mb, could hand cycle (for example). If a boy earns all three of those, they roll to electives. Only the Eagle-requireds have alternative requirements. If a boy is terrified of dogs (for example) there are not alternative requirements to get around taking care of the dog. He simply chooses another mb to do as an elective. 
 
Here is the list of Eagle-required mbs:

All of those have alternative requirements allowed.

 

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