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Carly Rae Jepsen.
In an attempt to refurbish its image, the Boy Scouts of America invited the Grammy Award-winning rock band Train and pop sensation Carly Rae Jepsen to perform at its 2013 Jamboree scheduled for July. The popular entertainers were no doubt expected to give the staid organization, now known as much for its bigotry as for scouting, a hipper, cooler aura. However, once the entertainers were informed of BSA's policy banning gay scouts and leaders, they quickly withdrew.
Train, a rock band from San Francisco, was a bold choice for the Boy Scouts. The group released its first album in 1998 and won two Grammy Awards in 2002. In late 2009, Train rose to new prominence with the album Save Me, San Francisco, which contained several hit singles, including the title cut, which tells a story about a young man who is jilted by a woman for another woman.
One of the hit songs from Save Me, San Francisco is "Marry Me." In late July 2012, Train learned that their song was being used by the anti-gay Family First New Zealand in their "Protect Marriage" campaign, which opposes the introduction of same-sex marriage in New Zealand. They demanded that the organization cease and desist the unauthorized use of their song.
Canadian recording artist and singer-songwriter Carly Rae Jepsen came to public attention in 2007, when she placed third in the Canadian Idol competition. She released her first album in 2008. But it wasn't until her single "Call Me, Maybe" shot up the charts in 2011 and 2012 that she became a pop star.
The popularity of that song and her good-girl image and special appeal to teenagers made Jepsen a more obvious choice as an entertainer at a Boy Scouts Jamboree than Train, so few eyebrows were raised when it was announced that she had accepted the Boy Scouts' invitation.
However, soon after the Boy Scouts announced that Train and Jepsen would be appearing at the annual Jamboree, where some 50,000 scouts are expected to attend, openly gay Eagle Scout Derek Nance began a Change.org petition asking them to denounce the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policy.
Nance wrote, "I'm an Eagle Scout and a former Boy Scout camp leader. I'm also gay, and a fan of Carly Rae Jepsen ("Call Me Maybe") and Train ("Drops of Jupiter"). That's why I was surprised to see that both Carly Rae and Train would be headlining the National Scout Jamboree this July, but hadn't yet spoken out against the Boy Scouts' policy banning gay youth and parents. As talented artists with incredibly loyal LGBT fans around the globe, I hope they will speak out quickly, and urge the Boy Scouts to end its dangerous anti-gay policy."
He added, "I came out as gay because I realized the best way to help end this dangerous policy is to stand up, speak out, and tell the organization I love to do the right thing. 'A Scout is brave,' and now I'm asking Carly Rae and Train to join me in standing up for what is right."
More than 70,000 people have signed the petition.
Train quickly announced that they were withdrawing from the Jamboree unless the Boy Scouts "make the right decision before then." They said they "strongly oppose any kind of policy that questions the equality of any American citizen."
In a series of tweets, Jepsen announced that she too was withdrawing. "As an artist who believes in equality for all people, I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer." She added, "I always have and will continue to support the LGBT community on a global level" and promised to "stay informed on the ever changing landscape in the ongoing battle for gay rights in this country and across the globe."
Soon after the news broke of her withdrawal on March 5, 2013, Scouts Canada invited her and Train to perform at their Jamboree.
As Lilian Asante reports in Canada's National Post, Scouts Canada issued an invitation to the entertainers to perform at their Jamboree in Alberta.
Kaylee Galipeau, chair of the national youth network for Scouts Canada, emphasized that the co-ed organization of over 100,000 members, reaffirmed its policy on justice, discrimination and diversity in 2001 and has not changed its stance since. Galipeau said the recent attention on the BSA, is a good opportunity to remind people about her organization's belief to be "open and inclusive, regardless of gender, culture, religious belief or sexual orientation."
"We accept boys and girls, we accept LGBT members, we accept people of all faiths," Galipeau said. "It's really just been an opportunity for us to remind people that we're still here, we're vibrant in Canada, we're growing and we are open to everyone."
In May, the Boy Scouts of America's National Council will consider a proposal to amend their ban on homosexuals by allowing sponsors of local Scout units to vote on the issue for themselves.
Below is a video of Train's "Save Me, San Francisco," a song that seems particularly inappropriate for performance at a anti-gay organization's Jamboree.
Below is Jepsen's megahit "Call Me, Maybe."