1857-02-22

ROBERT BADEN-POWELL 1st Baron Baden-Powell, English founder of the Boy Scouts (d. 1941); Robert Baden-Powell’s sexuality has been brought into question by his principal modern biographers, including Michael Rosenthal in The Character Factory: Baden-Powell’s Boy Scouts and the Imperatives of Empire (1984), who have found a great deal of evidence indicating he was attracted to youthful men and to boys. Nonetheless, Baden-Powell is believed to always have remained chaste with his scouts, and he did not tolerate Scoutmasters who indulged in sexual ‘escapades’ with their charges.

Much of the evidence for Baden-Powell’s sexuality can be found in Tim Jeal’s monumental and definitive biography, Baden-Powell (1989), in which Jael states frankly: “The evidence available points inexorably to the conclusion that Baden-Powell was a repressed homosexual, (… but) he managed to follow Plato’s prescription glorifying the love of man for man, or man for boy, while remaining physically chaste.”

Jeal gives several detailed instances of Baden-Powell’s pleasure in seeing naked boys, his emotional enjoyment gained from living alongside them, and his delight in contemplating the clandestine “artistic” nude photography of boys which was at that time circulating among English pederastic public school circles.

Now, more than 150 years later, the American off-shoot of his organization, The Boy Scouts of America, have declared bankruptcy due to claims against the organization for child sexual abuse.