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The Cub Scouts tell the mother of a retarded boy her son’s no longer welcome

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The Cub Scouts tell the mother of a retarded boy her son’s no longer welcome

I cannot flipping believe this bull! This pisses me off. I take this very personally.

I am a very proud Eagle Scout. I fear that in 1995 when I got my Eagle award, the Boy Scouts of America was a very different place that it is now.

This makes me sick to my stomach! It is another tarnish to the BSA name and makes me feel ashamed to be associated with a group that discriminates against developmentally disabled children.

If this goes to court, which I doubt, as it sounds like the mother has too much to deal with as it is, I am sure Irby vs. Boy Scouts of America would be a very short trial. After all the BSA was let off because they are a “private club” when an atheist brought a challenge.

God forbid that you are gay, or atheist, or have a low IQ. If any of the above apply, don’t apply to the Boy Scouts of America. That is a discouraging and loud message the BSA is sending out.

I would think this claim about “other children’s safety” has got to have another story behind it, although the quote from one mother who said “He wasn’t dangerous, or irate, or anything like that. He sat and did the same activities as my kid. He’s a great kid. I never found anything wrong with him.” seems rather telling.

I cannot find anything online to help this Pack out (what I believe is their site has this message right now: “Due to a recent situation with our Pack and some of the information contained within these pages, we are temporarily taking our web site off line. This is primarily for the safety and welfare of the 50+ boys we are responsible for protecting.”) Archive.org has the web site though, thanks LKM.

I feel sorry for Pack 765, its Den Mothers, Mrs. Irby, and the rest of the people involved with the discrimination.

BSA literature talks about promote scouting as being inclusive of disabled kids and providing them with an opportunity to fit in.

How big of a bigot do you need to be to kick a kid out without even discussing the supposed problems with his mother who went as far as to become a Tiger Cub Leader herself to help out the group?

Has the Boy Scout experience changed so drastically in the almost 10 years since I received my Eagle award? I had the most wonderful opportunity to learn from a retarded boy in my Boy Scout Troop. Hell, for that matter I knew a few gays and atheists. I had no problem with it then, and I still don’t now. We live in a diverse world, and the Boy Scouts of America needs to take the express lane to the 21st Century.

In all my experience in the Boy Scouts as a Scout, Camp Counselor, and Assistant Scoutmaster, I never learned more then I learned from the kid that had a lower IQ.

Since we are on the subject, I might as well add a rider here.

The Boy Scouts of America needs to become a contributing member of the 21st Century. The Boy Scouts needs to take their cues from the Girl Scouts of America as well as other World Scouting Organizations. What you say? The Girl Scouts see nothing wrong with lesbians and Gays. The Girl Scouts encourage their girls to become an active member of her own religious group. I am willing to bet that the Girl Scouts also take developmentally disabled girls with open arms.

I have gone to many National Boy Scout Jamborees, and one day I will make it to a World Scouting Jamboree (Being held in 2007 in the UK, I hope I can go as it will be the 100th anniversary in the place where Scouting all began). Scouting around the World is very different, and a lot more open. Meeting Scouts from around the World at National Jamboree is such a wonderful experience. It is one of the best reasons to go back to a National Jamboree. Meeting people from other countries is more than trading patches, though I must admit, I have a very nice patch collection. It’s about learning from people who are not exactly like you.

The Boy Scouts here in America should allow women like other parts of the world does. Right now the only way a woman can be part of BSA is to join an Explorer/Venture Post. For many people, Explorers is something you do after you have earned your Eagle Award, and want to earn more then just more Merit Badges. The age requirement for an Explorer Post also limits the participation that women can have in the American Boy Scouts. I have been part of two different Explorer Posts, both unique experiences, but this was something to do after I completed my Eagle Scout Award. Explorers is not the answer for women in the BSA.

I wish, and hope, that the Boy Scouts of America change their discriminating ways. This story of Christopher Irby is just another log being thrown on a growing problem with the Boy Scouts of America today.

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About Ken Edwards

  • A very sad day indeed – sounds like the pack leaders are acting more like children than the kids themselves!

    Jason Koulouras

  • (Scratching head.) Not long ago, Ken Edwards referred to me, a person with a high IQ, as a “moron.” So, his sudden embrasure of retarded people seems odd. But, then, as anyone reading this poorly reasoned, badly written and repetitious excuse for a blog entry can tell, he is far from the sharpest pencil in the box.

  • SFC Ski

    This is a sad piece of BSA history, I agree that this is discrimination that should not be excused or tolerated.

  • RJ


    The BOY Scouts Of America should:

    Allow openly-gay scoutmasters who have a thing for little kids to lead little boys into the woods, alone…(why don’t the girl scouts allow single, young, heterosexual men to lead them into the woods?)

    Allow girls to join the club, even though this is supposedly the “boy” scouts, and there is another organization these girls can easily join called the “girl” scouts…

    Allow retards to join in, even though they might accidentally cause havoc, and therefore invite litigation…

    Yeah. Let’s let girls and retards join a quasi-military private organization for boys, and be led by openly-homosexual men who seem to want to hang out with little boys. Sounds like a great idea to me!

  • I disagree. I read the source material. There seem to have been legitimate concerns about the behavior of the retarded boy involved. A lawsuit against the Scouts for injury to either that child or another related to his behavior could cause considerable damage to the Scouts. It appears a risk assessment was done after observing Christopher Irby for a year. Scout officials decided not to allow him to continue participating. Note I said ‘a year.’ People eager to hussle the kid out for discriminatory reasons would not have given him a long assessment period.

    The mother seems to be in over her head. Only 28, she has a three-year-old and two retarded children, seven and nine. She and her husband adopted them last year.

    I found the ‘expert’ quoted extensively in the piece unconvincing and rather foolish.

    Phil Ferguson, dean of the College of Education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, begs to differ. “Come on! He’s seven years old. On its face, it’s outrageous, segregationist and discriminatory,” Ferguson says. “It’s offensive that these leaders would reach this point instead of saying, ‘Let’s sit down and figure out how we can work this out.’ But what really irritates me is that they take that kind of almost restraining-order kind of language — ‘Keep your kid away from our normal kids.’ It’s bogus.”

    . . .”That’s the kind of solution we’ve had traditionally: When in doubt, let’s create a separate thing and call it equal,” Ferguson says. “We have a lot of experience with that regarding minority groups. I would approach this the same way as if they tried to set up a separate African-American troop. It’s a cop-out.”

    The concerns invoked by racial discrimination are much different than a scenario involving handicapped people. In the latter situation, there are legitimate reasons for different treatment. Skin color or eye shape are trivial characteristics. A mental age years younger than biological age or inability to lift ones arms are not. The legal standard for a situation involving a handicapped person is to try to accommodate him within reason. However, there is no requirement that the person be accepted if he would constitute a danger to himself or others. I believe that standard was met. (Not that it had to be. The Boy Scouts are a private organization.)

    This blog entry and others I read reminded me of one of the things I dislike about the blogosphere — people blathering about situations without having any kind of yardstick to measure them by. Of the four entries I looked at, not one consulted the Americans With Disabilities Act or weighed the interests involved. Instead, they joined the original source in berating the Boy Scouts. There seems to be no danger of blogs becoming a major source of information. That is a good thing.

  • Mac Diva, there is a difference between a “moron” and a “retard.” but with all kidding aside, I must admit I enjoy your postings a lot more when they include cognitive thoughts instead of cheap shots.

    “I cannot find anything online to help this Pack out.”

    To be honest I looked for evidence to back the BSA, and none was found. There has got to be another side to the story, there always is. The reporter who wrote the original article, however, could not find anything to support the Pack, or the Boy Scouts.

    You are correct, the Boy Scouts do not have to comply with any ADA regulations, based on previous court cases, because they are a “private club.” But the Boy Scouts DO uphold ADA standards because they “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.” That, and because its the Right Thing to Do.

    The other people in the blogosphere who have written about this are all singing the same tune because IT IS WRONG what the Greater St. Louis Area Council has done.

    Please tell me how racial discrimination is different from discrimination based on mental aptitude?

    “First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out,because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

    Does that ring a bell to anyone? Being thrown into a death camp is not the same as being kicked out of the Boy Scouts, but the principle a universal. when you allow one group to be discriminated against, you open the door for other groups to be discriminated against as well.

    I would think that MOST BSA Councils would not allow what happened here happen. The Greater St. Louis Area Council decided to take the “easy way” out and not deal with having to deal with a retarded kid. The Council is in effect giving the Pack leaders the OK to discriminate on whatever basis they may have. This is not something the National BSA Office should put up with.

    It seems the quality of the BSA Council depends on what part of the nation you live in. I think we need higher standards in this regard.

    I have dealt with retarded kids at the summer camps I have worked at. Sure it takes them longer to do something, or understand something. But they are putting in the effort to be there and learn. It is our job to meet them in the middle and keep our end of the bargain.

    The issue of religion or sexual preferences is different then this issue of developmentally disabled kids. Behavioral problems, or people’s misconception of behavioral problems is not the same as gays and atheists. Behavioral problems are much more subjective, and I don’t think that many Councils in the BSA would react in the way that the Greater St. Louis Area Council did.

  • There’s not enough information available to support a claim of unfair discrimination. It isn’t even clear what form of retardation the boy has. (That matters because it can determine what any behavioral problems might be.) I also wonder what is going on with the child at school. If he’s having behavior problems there, it bolsters the Scouts’ argument.

    It seems to me that the mother would be wise to enroll the child in a program of activities for children who are slow. Eventually, he is going to fall behind children his age, if that hasn’t already happened. It will not do her any good to be in denial about that.

    The blog entries I read confuse very different kinds of discrimination — racial, religious, sexual preference and disability. The standards for judging them vary
    significantly. I think analysis for handicapped discrimination is what applies here, not any of the others

  • Besides the fact that he’s white…so it can’t be a racist thing or a discrimination thing…right Diva???

  • Phill

    I was active in Cub Scouts and Weblos despite my cerebral palsy. I must use a wheelchair or crutches to walk. When I joined the Boy Scouts, it was made clear that I was unwelcome. The majority of my fellow Weblos that year decided not to become Boy Scouts, in support of me.

    The boys are better off without the BSA.

  • They’re a “Christian” organization funded partially by the government-What’d you expect?

  • Disgusted

    Hey RJ,you should open your eyes to the world, and you know, actually meet some people who are homosexual or bisexual. Your implicit assertion that all homosexuals are also pedophiles disgusts me. And I quote “Allow openly-gay scoutmasters who have a thing for little kids”

    Gee, you don’t think maybe they DON’T have a thing for kids, and you know, are attracted to other ADULTS? You and your kind are the ones who should be banned from the BSA.

  • shelly

    The pack and troop my boys are in have 5 boys with varying degrees of special needs. It requires a lot of extra eyes and hands to deal with situations that arise, but it is doable. After a year the mildly autistic screamer, doesn’t scream as loudly or as often as before when things don’t go his way. The one who never finishes anything on his own moved up two ranks last year.
    Maybe its just because in the south people are more laid back and still let boys be boys and don’t break up fights unless someone is getting hurt too much. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and most don’t worry about being PC. It’s the difference between competition and teamwork. You can be who you are without stressing over it, and it overflows to being accepting of those who are different and/or difficult.
    Maybe that one boy needs an adult whose sole responsibility is to keep up with him.
    If a boys way he behaves or his physical limitations keep the troop from activities; then he needs to do alternate activities to advance rank or find/start a troop that matches his abilities.
    Just my two cents. I’m tired and I’m not checking for grammar, sp or sent. construction. If something doesn’t make sense to you I’m sorry.

  • Aaron

    This child was not discriminated against! He is a child that has been asked not to participate in Cub Scouts because he has BEHAVIOR problems. And, yes, he just happens to be developmently disabled . . . BUT THIS IS NOT WHY HE WAS EXCLUDED!

    What makes me sick is the reality that people won’t see the real issue and start crying, “discrimination” just because the child is developmentally disabled. It appears that the mom needs to get a handle on her child’s BEHAVIOR problems.

  • Nancy

    Kids with behavioral problems frequently cause massive & constant disruptions in class or extracurricular activities, which are grossly unfair to the other kids involved. I should know; I spent a year in class with one before he was finally removed, and it was a wonder all of us didn’t have to repeat the grade, he was such a perpetual pain in the ass. IMO it is a mistake and a wrong to ‘normal’ kids to allow parents of subnormals to insist on inflicting their kids on classes of normal students, when their kids are unable to conform either on a behavioral or intellectual level with the rest of the class. They hold everyone back, and they are a distraction. At best, the rest of the class has to slow down for them; at worst, they totally and continually disrupt normal activities. They belong in special classes or groups with others of their own level. This affords them the extra attention they require, doesn’t expose them to the stress of being perpetually behind, & doesn’t impact on the regular classes who are free to go as fast as they should.

  • A Mom

    My son is autistic with some quirks in his behavior. I wouldn’t let him attend w/o me and wouldn’t let him disrupt the meetings for other kids. Together with my dh, he made it through and obtained his Arrow of Light.

    We saw that regular scout troops were not going to meet his needs as it did for his two older brothers (Eagles). We started a troop for special guys like him.

    Sometimes the world needs to make allowances for our special children and mostly we need to realize that they can’t always fit into the world’s activities. Why create additional stress for the kids or parents? Our troop is having fun and it’s on our level. We make the system fit us in this case.

    Parents need to be realistic and do the best for their child.

  • Kay

    I’m sorry, I really don’t know the true story here, I stubbled onto this website looking for a Boy Scout Handbook that is in audio form for my special needs son. Unless you have a special needs child you do not understand the frustration that the child endures or the parent. It’s important that these children feel a part of things, learn to socialize, learn to be independent. My son has a low IQ, he has a hard time learning but he deserves to do things others do. Some of you tell parents with special needs to keep them out, that is not fair. These kids deserve this as much as anyone else. There isn’t anything out there for children with special needs in learning disabilities unless it for the severly handicaped. A child most of the time is born this way. What would suggest we do? Lock them up like they did in the old days????

  • Crawfish1_Lady

    I have been a Cub Leader for over 17 years and have had a few boys that were totally uncontrolable and a danger to the other scouts.. I have asked the parents to stay for the meetings and help with their own boys and was flat told “NO I DONT HAVE TIME!” SO, I myself, asked them not to bring the boys back to the meetings. If YOU can’t teach your child to behave and respect others then don’t expect me or the other boys in teh den to be his punching bags.
    Normal or retarded.. Its not fair to the other kids. I have also had mentally handicapped children in the group that were VERY well behaved!! Its not the fact that the child was retarded that BSA, or in reality the leader in that den, could not deal with him and asked him not to come back.. it was his behavior and the parents lack of concern for the other childrens safety that got the child sent home.. I would have to agree with that decission to send thechild home and ask that he not return.

  • kerry mccall

    I have been in scouts for years, having 5 boys who were all at one time active in scouts including my son who is 9. I was the tiger mom last year, my husband and I have both been leaders or assistants every time our boys were in a group. my 9 year old was running around last summer playing, then he was stricken by a rare normally fatal brain disease for which he is recovering from a bone marrow transplant(oct08). were there any concessions made by scouts for him when i came back in january from another state where he underwent experimental treatament? no. but i am working with the district to start a group specificially for disabled kids. scouts is all i could use to motivate my son to fight through this illness, so he could come back and go to the blue and gold dinner, which they had without telling us even though we were registerd members. we have enormous medical bills and expenses every month and cant even afford equipment for him but did we get a break on the dues or registration? no. in fact when we take him to the crossover for 20 minutes this month its going to cost us 10 buck s aperson to come in and do only that. how ridiculous. the leaders in the group are starting to understand but there still have been no concessions made for my son. my son is blind and in a wheelchair now and speech impaired but he loves being included and certainly is no danger to anyone. some of the moms there are really great and i guess the leadership just doesnt know how to respond or what to do. at the regatta my son actually, with us helping him, walked several steps to race his boat while another scout blew on it fo rhim. he lost by 1/8 of an inch, we had to lie and tell him we won. and no one even noticed he walked. he had a stroke from the brain disease before it was stopped by transplant. so any movement for him is amazing. i am discouraged by scouts but for that reason i am going to hang in there and change things even if it means i have to go on cnn! i had to go on tv to get my sons transplant so am certainly not afraid to do that. his website is http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jackmccall. there are pictures there of all his brothers and sisters (i have 7 bio and one adopted) and his brother who was his donor, who is a US Marine. the cover picture was taken on an honor mission he went with me on with the Patriot Guard.

  • Shannon

    I’m currently in a Venture Crew that the membership is mainly mentally disabled youth. I find it very rewarding to work with them and be part of the Crew.

  • Alexander

    It is ashame that he would be kicked out of Cub Scouts. However if it was Boy Scouts I would understand. As having a scout who is mentally retarded would slow the troop on the rougher scouts enjoy. Sure the scouting program teaches to be helpful and whatnot but it also teaches to be self reliant. However I agree that being kicked out of Cub Scouts is ridiculous.