The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 6, 2013

Two headline musical acts pull out of Scout Jamboree

MOUNT HOPE — The two headlining musical acts for the 2013 Boy Scouts National Jamboree have canceled, based on the organization’s exclusionary membership policies towards homosexuals.

Both Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen and the San Francisco-based band Train recently issued statements signaling their lack of willingness to engage with an organization with policies that, in Train’s words, “(question) the equality” of American citizens.

That leaves two big holes to fill during this July’s event, which is expected to draw tens of thousands of Scouts to Mount Hope for a week of activities at the Scouts’ new base, The Summit.

Jepsen, most well known for her single “Call Me Maybe,” issued her statement via Twitter on Tuesday morning.

“As an artist who believes in equality for all people, I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer,” wrote the star.

“I always have and will continue to support the LGBT community on a global level and stay informed on the ever-changing landscape in the ongoing battle for gay rights in this country and across the globe.”

Jepsen’s music video for “Call Me Maybe” switches course in its last seconds when a man Jepsen has been eyeing throughout gives his phone number to a male band mate.

Train has stated that they will not participate as long as the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) retains its current policy, which restricts members based on sexual orientation.

Recently, the BSA has discussed the possibility of removing their restriction regarding sexual orientation and turning over decision-making power to local troops. They were poised for a discussion, and possibly a vote, on the issue at their biannual national assembly in February.

In the end, the organization decided to put off their decision until May, according to the Associated Press.

“When we booked this show for the Boy Scouts of America we were not aware of any policy barring openly gay people from participation within the organization,” said a statement published on Train’s website on Friday.

“Train strongly opposes any kind of policy that questions the equality of any American citizen. We have always seen the BSA as a great and noble organization.

“We look forward to participating in the Jamboree this summer, as long as they make the right decision before then.”

Fans responded with three pages of overwhelmingly positive comments to the post.

“As a gay Christian, I will pray to God (...) that more artists and others join the movement in support of equal rights and Civil Rights and freedoms for all LGBT people in America,” wrote one poster identified as Mike Knife. “After all, we are the land of the free."

A gay Eagle Scout, Derek Nance, launched a Change.org petition to persuade Jepsen and Train to cancel the concerts and publicly denounce the ban on gay youth and leaders. It racked up 62,000 signatures.

The Scouts have been under pressure from groups like the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), as well as some of their membership, to reverse their policies. Others, especially religious groups, have pushed back.

“We appreciate everyone’s right to express an opinion and remain focused on delivering a great Jamboree program for our Scouts,” said Deron Smith, BSA Director of Public Relations, in an email.

These two shows were the centerpiece concerts of the Jamboree, a BSA volunteer heading up the stadium show efforts, Don Wendell, recently told The Register-Herald.

The Jepsen concert was to open the event on July 16, and Train was to close out the week on July 20 during an evening billed as “A Celebration of Scouting.”  

Smith downplayed the cancellations.

“While the Jamboree experience is enhanced by the concerts, they are supplements to a program centered on adventure, as young people build lifelong friendships,” Smith tells The Register-Herald.

“We are reviewing the content of our stadium shows, but our focus remains on the broader issue of delivering a great Jamboree program for our Scouts.”

Wendell said both acts were booked because they were “scout friendly,” and agreed to provide a family-friendly performance.

It’s unclear whether the BSA will try to book another act to replace Train, since the membership decision won’t be made until two months before the Jamboree.  

— Email: cmoore@register-herald.com

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