I was 11 when a scoutmaster molested me at Camp Waubeeka, in upstate New York, in 1970. Chuck was a handsome 28-year-old full of energy and charisma. He gave me a nickname, "Frenchie," and loved to toss me over his shoulder and tickle me. We all thought he was just a friendly guy who enjoyed working with kids. I worshipped him.
By the end of the first weekend, Chuck had pretty much figured out who the most attractive boys were in the three troupes occupying the camp, and he handpicked the "tribe" who would be spending an "Indian Weekend" with him personally. This consisted of a day of games where we were all dressed up as young Indian warriors. Chuck had his system so down pat that he brought us in one by one before the big race and put vaseline on our testicles so that we wouldn't "chafe" while running. He then took us to the lake to take pictures that he sent to us later, impressing our parents with his artistry.
That night he gathered us in the tepee and told stories around the fire. He made sure I was next to him, and, as unbelievable as it seems, he reached in to manipulate me while he regaled us with stories of his life in the Marines. The bunched-up sleeping bags concealed the movement of his arm, and he no doubt knew from experience that brazenness paid off. I was literally shocked into silence, even through my very first orgasm.
That night he reaching into my bag. This time I pushed him away, and he didn't insist. That morning he emptied most of us from our sleeping bags in a boys-will-be-boys show of roughhousing that managed to expose most of us in our underwear. Still mortified by the night before, I told a friend what had happened, and he told my brother, who later told my parents. In a style consistent with the times, my father simply made a call to ensure that Chuck's contract as a scoutmaster was not renewed. That was it. No police, no courts, no punishment. I'm sure that Chuck went on to molest children in other venues for years.
So it may seem strange that I can't think of anything more stupid than excluding openly gay men from serving in the Boy Scouts.
Pedophiles are, by definition, liars. The very last thing they would ever admit to voluntarily is being attracted to boys. Conversely, a scoutmaster who has declared himself openly gay is the antithesis of a liar. If you want to guarantee that you're not hiring a pedophile, the answer you should be looking for to "are you a homosexual?" is "yes."
An openly gay scoutmaster knows that he will be under heightened scrutiny. He is going to go out of his way to make sure that his conduct is above suspicion. That means no one-on-one hikes, no closed tent flaps, no invitations to share a tepee. Ironically, the BSA bureaucrats are freezing out the very employees least likely to engage in the behavior that they are most trying to avoid. By focusing on their ignorant conflation of homosexuality and pedophilia (most pedophiles are actually straight men), they are ignoring evidence of the most important trait of all: honesty.
All scouts, gay or straight, need role models. Boys in the flush of hormone-drenching puberty need to see men who have learned how to operate out in the world with confidence and perspective, whatever their sexuality. Depriving scouts of leadership that exhibits trustworthiness and integrity makes a mockery of the very ideals scouting is supposedly founded upon.
Mark Olmsted is the author of the recently published A Liar Out of Me (Part I).