Maryanne Jordan, thanks for trying to Add The Words
Please help us increase accountability on Idaho leaders for tolerating discrimination
(This letter is part of Blog The Words, a digital, accountability campaign advocating for equal rights and protections for all Idahoans, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. Get involved here.)
We haven’t met yet, but I’m one of your constituents in District 17.
Idaho needs equal rights and protections for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that’s currently not the case. Thank you for trying to fix this when you introduced SB 1015 last January. Though it didn’t pass, we can’t give up.
The idea is for hundreds of Idahoans, from every legislative district, to write a blog post “letter” (like this one) to a legislator explaining why Add The Words matters to them. It’s simple and easy, and should only take a few hours total. We have a guide with checklists, templates, and everything you’ll need to know.
Why Add The Words matters to me
I grew up in a deeply conservative environment, attending Cole Valley Christian School in Meridian.
Among the numerous judgmental and closed-minded ideas they taught me, gay-hating was front and center. Though I’m straight, my best friend from elementary school is gay, and I witnessed him grow up in that setting. I’m so glad he survived it — I know that many LGBTQ kids don’t, especially in religious schools.
After high school, I attended Boise State University.
My mind began to open, and I became less judgmental and hateful towards different kinds of people. During my junior year, I was one of the first people that my best friend came out to. I’m so thankful I was in a position to love and support him at that point. I’ve had a front row seat to watching him learn to accept his sexuality, express it openly, and eventually love who he is. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, and I’m so proud of him.
As the years went on, and I gained more perspective, I realized how harmful environments like the one I grew up in can be for kids, but especially the LGBTQ ones. I blogged about it, it blew up, and the Cole Valley Speaks movement started. I’ve had 8 LGBTQ peers of mine do public interviews, and my heart was repeatedly broken. Cole Valley Christian School needs to change, but I realized they’re just a small part of the bigger problem — Idaho needs to change.
I started doing some research.
I knew people had been working to get the words ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’ added to the Idaho Human Rights Act for a long time, but I hadn’t been involved, and I didn’t know the details.
I learned that people have been trying for 14 years, and have been unsuccessful.
They’ve tried almost every traditional activism tactic in the book, and dozens of them even got arrested for civil disobedience in the statehouse, because that’s what it had come to. It didn’t matter. Idaho’s Republican legislature collectively gave these people a big 🖕🖕. I watched the documentary, and I bawled my eyes out and trembled with rage. FUCK 👏🏻 THIS 👏🏻 SHIT!
Up until now, I’d been sympathizing with it from the sidelines — casually watching the news, getting mildly frustrated, passively wondering when our leaders would do the right thing and protect all of their people. I’m done with that.
My days on the sidelines are over. I need to do something.
And from my background with Make Idaho Better and Cole Valley Speaks, I had some creative ideas to use blogging, social media, and streamlined community organizing to build momentum and bring as many passive supporters off the sidelines as possible. We can provide them with an easy, impactful, targeted way to make an impact.
We need to turn up the pressure on our leaders to do the right thing about 10 notches — they need to stop tolerating discrimination of our family members, friends, and neighbors. Idaho is too great for hate.
Please join us. A post from you would mean a lot.
Cameron Crow, District 17 Resident