“Add The Words Idaho!” Thoughts on National Coming Out Day 2011

(Today not only marks National Coming Out Day, but it also  marks the kick off Idaho’s “Add The Words” campaign, which uses sticky notes sent in from all across the state to draw lawmaker attention to the need of adding “Sexual orientation and gender identity” to Idaho’s Human Rights Act.  Codey Hafer has spent the last couple of years working on gaining support for the issue.  A native of Twin Falls, he is currently a student  at Boise State University and serves as a peer gender equality educator at BSU’s Women’s Center.)

On National Coming Out Day, I am not only coming out as a queer man, I am coming out as an Idahoan that believes ALL Idahoans, including our gay and transgender identified friends, family and neighbors, deserve FAIR  Employment, Housing, Education and Public Accommodation opportunities.

We are doing a disservice to our state and communities, when gay and transgender Idahoans are not afforded the same rights and privileges as their straight-identified friends, family and neighbors.

Growing up in Twin Falls, I was unaware of the existence of LGBTQI people until I entered middle school and high school, where relentless defamation and bullying of kids that did not fit “the mold” scared me into constant identity confusion.

I was not able to explore my queer identity while I grew up in Twin Falls because it never felt safe to do so.  Beyond the bullying and harassment in school, it seemed there were no LGBTQI adults to help shape my understanding and perception of my queer identity and experience.  I was trapped in this world of uncertainty as I progressed through my secondary education.

I think we often associate the benefit of FAIR Employment, Housing, Education and Public Accommodation rights to LGBTQI adults and families, but the impacts of equitable access and rights runs much deeper.

What would it look and feel like for LGBTQI youth if they had adult LGBTQI community members to look up to?  What lifelong impacts could these relationships have?

I am a firm believer that LGBTQI identified adults would be more out and proud if we lived in a state where there was no fear of losing your job or education and housing opportunities because of being gay or transgender.  Again, our communities are disadvantaged when not all members of the community feel safe and valued.

As citizens of the state of Idaho, we must demand that our legislators represent us this legislative session, by amending the Idaho Human Rights Act to include the words sexual orientation and gender identity.  Our legislators need to know that Idahoans throughout the state, in rural and urban settings believe that gay and transgender Idahoans should have FAIR employment, housing, education and public accommodation opportunities and rights.

Add the Words, Idaho!  It is time to demand equity for all Idahoans.  It is time to stand up for gay and transgender folks in the state of Idaho.  It is time to come out as an ally to the community, regardless of your sexual orientation and gender identity, and let your legislators know you support amending the Idaho Human Rights Act.

We must fight for a more safe and inclusive state community, for ALL Idahoans across all orientations and gender identities.  The time to add the words, is now!

(Organizers are asking Idahoans to get involved by logging onto the “Add The Words” website and sharing their messages of support for the amendment. They are also asking those on facebook, twitter (@addthewords) and other social media outlets to spread the word about the sticky note campaign.  You can   also help by downloading flyers and distributing them around where you live, work, or play by going HERE.-JT)


One Response to “Add The Words Idaho!” Thoughts on National Coming Out Day 2011

  1. Pingback: On The Agenda: Hate Crimes, Slut Walk and Sticky Notes « The Idaho Agenda

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