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But even if Irby were able to start her own special-needs Cub Scout pack, UMSL professor Phil Ferguson maintains that dividing children into groups based on their mental abilities "ghettoizes" special-needs children.
"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 actions of Cub Scout Pack 765 leaders Huston and Hummert appear to contradict the philosophy of the Boy Scouts of America. Boy Scout literature goes to great lengths in highlighting the organization's commitment to include children with disabilities, maintaining that there are more than 100,000 registered scouts with disabilities.
"The basic premise of Scouting for youth with disabilities and special needs is that they want most to participate like other youth -- and Scouting gives them that opportunity," reads a fact sheet entitled "Scouts with Disabilities and Special Needs."
"The program for Scouts with disabilities and special needs is directed at (1) helping unit leaders develop an awareness of disabled people among youth without disabilities, and (2) encouraging the inclusion of Scouts with disabilities and special needs in Cub Scout packs."
But local scout leadership is holding firm. "If [pack leadership has] made a decision that the health and safety of their youth members is being compromised -- then we respect that decision," says Mueller, who emphasizes that the scouts have presented Irby with other options. "He could join another pack at another school."
That's cold comfort to Renee Irby, who has yet to tell her son he's no longer welcome at Pack 765 events. "You know what I feel like?" she asks. "I feel like it's all bullshit."