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Why These Headliners Are Giving The Boy Scouts Jamboree The Cold Shoulder

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Singer Carly Rae Jepsen performs at KiSS 92.5's Wham Bam at the Molson Amphitheatre on Thursday, August 16, 2012, in Toronto.

CREDIT: Photo by Arthur Mola/Invision/AP

Unfortunate timing for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA): One month after the organization postponed its decision on continuing a ban on gay members, two artists headlining this summer's National Scout Jamboree, held every four years, have dropped out because of the policy.

“Call Me Maybe” singer Carly Rae Jepsen and rock band Train cancelled their performances after a Change.org petition called on them to “denounce” the BSA’s policy. A statement posted on Train’s Web site says the band “strongly opposes any kind of policy that questions the equality of any American citizen.” Jepsen seconded the sentiment a few days later on her Twitter account, saying she also “believes in equality for all people.”

LGBT activists see significance in the headliners’ withdrawal within the controversy over the BSA’s policy and beyond.

“It sends a very important message that public figures are allies,” Grace Sterling Stowell, executive director of the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), told Campus Progress. “I hope it sends a strong message to [the BSA] that there’s a lot of support against discrimination.”

The online petition started by Eagle Scout and former Boy Scout camp leader Derek Nance has collected over 70,000 signatures to date. Nance asked the artists to honor their “incredibly loyal LGBT fans” by “standing up for what is right… and step[ping] down.” On the updated petition page under the heading “Victory,” Nance thanked Jepsen and Train for embodying the bravery of a Scout.

“I'm thrilled that Carly Rae and Train have joined me in standing up for what is right,” Nance wrote. “I hope the Boy Scouts of America also choose to be brave this May."

The organization will vote in May on whether to maintain its policy banning openly gay leaders and members. Two months later is the Jamboree, which will draw an expected crowd of 50,000 to the BSA’s Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve, according to the event Web site.

“The majority of Americans think it is time for the policy to go,” Candace Gingrich-Jones, associate director of Youth and Campus Outreach at the Human Rights Campaign, told Campus Progress. “Losing the headliners adds to the pressure they’ve already been getting on the issue.”

In the band’s statement, Train said they would work with the Scouts this summer “as long as they make the right decision before then.” The public support of the boycotts may inspire the BSA to rethink their anti-gay stance in time to put on a good show. Otherwise, maybe they’re better off not calling Jepsen.

 

Molly Savard is a reporter for Campus Progress. You can follow her on Twitter @mollicules.

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