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Family: Boy scout singled out for being on autism spectrum

Updated: July 01, 2019 09:53 PM

The family of a boy scout is asking for policy changes and an apology from a Boy Scout camp in northern Minnesota after they say he was singled out and excluded from participating in a shooting range activity simply because he is on the autism spectrum.

Jesse Mosser was allowed to participate in camp activities throughout the week, including things like archery and Tomahawk throwing, which he did without issues. But when it came to rifle practice at Many Point Scout Camp, he was asked to sit out, his family said.

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Mosser was waiting his turn at the rifle range last week, but when the first group of boys finished target practice, the rifle instructor stopped the activity.

"At that time, the gentleman leaned over me, in a loud voice where half the boys heard, asked 'Is he mentally disabled?'" said Jesse's father, James Mosser, who accompanied him during the trip.

James said he responded, "No, he's not. He just has autism."

Jesse is not mentally disabled. His family said he's diagnosed with autism, but is considered high-functioning. But, that didn't make a difference.

"And he said that, 'Well he's not going to shoot on my range. We've had problems in the past with kids like that,'" James said

James said Jesse looked confused and in pain. He said Jesse kept asking what was wrong with him that he couldn't shoot with all of the others.

James said he explained to the instructor that he was more than happy to stand over his son to keep a close watch. James was previously a lieutenant colonel in the Army and has over 28 years of experience with firearm safety.  He was willing to do anything so Jesse could join the other boys. But the answer was the same.

"I just felt really disappointed and sad," Jesse said.

"It's very hurtful because you know he's struggling with that throughout school and everything else," James said

The family said they are not trying to start any trouble, but they do not want this happening again.

"I still feel a little upset," Jesse said.

James says the camp director spoke to them later, apologized and assured them corrective action would be taken.

"They love boy scouting," James said. "I've been a boy scout since I was a young child. We love the organization and what it stands for."

Jesse still hopes to someday be an Eagle Scout.

The Northern Star Council issued a statement Monday night: 

On June 24 a member of our Many Point Scout Camp Staff inappropriately denied a Scout with a diagnosis of Autism access to target shooting at the rifle range. Upon learning of this incident, the camp directors took action to correct the staff member, had him apologize to the Scout and his father, and offered the Scout the full opportunity to participate in target shooting while still at camp.

Scouting is for all young people and we strive through our volunteers and staff to give our members the best possible experience. Additional staff training and orientation will take place at our camps going forward to prevent such an incident in the future. 

James responded to the council's statement, saying he disagrees. 

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