Moscow Advances Anti-Discrimination Ordinance

Moscow, Idaho

The city of Moscow, Idaho may soon become the fourth city in Idaho to ban discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. During a meeting Monday night the Moscow City Council Administrative Committee voted 3-0 to send the ordinance onto the full city council with a “do pass” recommendation.

That’s the same committee that sent the ordinance back last month for what Moscow City Councilman Tom Lamar described as “review and input.” According to Jim Huggins, head of GetEQUAL Idaho, the council is expected to take the ordinance up during its meeting on April 1st.

The ordinance, which would prohibit discrimination in areas of housing and employment based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, is a collaboration between the Human Rights Commission and the Fair and Affordable Housing Commission.

Huggins says he expects the Moscow measure will pass the council. If passed, Moscow would join Sandpoint, Boise, and Ketchum in banning LGBT discrimination within city limits. There is speculation that Idaho Falls and Pocatello may be the next cities to take up the matter. Leaders in both towns have previously expressed interest in the idea. Even so, that still leaves about one-sixth of the state’s population unprotected by any sort of sexual orientation or gender identity anti-discrimination ordinance or law. For the seventh year in a row, the Idaho Legislature declined to consider a  similar statewide measure.

Moscow’s Anti-discrimination Ordinance sent back for Revisions

Moscow, Idaho

The Moscow Administrative Council voted Monday night to send a proposed ordinance prohibiting LGBT discrimination back to the two committees responsible for crafting it.

The ordinance, which would prohibit discrimination in areas of housing and employment based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity, is a collaboration between the Human Rights Commission and the Fair and Affordable Housing Commission.

City Attorney Randy Fife drafted the ordinance and presented it to the City of Moscow Administrative Committee on Monday night.

Jim Huggins, head of GetEQUAL Idaho, attended the meeting. He reports Fair and Affordable Housing Commission’s Ken Nagy told the committee that in some cases discrimination in housing is necessary, based on past rental history etc. but that it’s wrong to discriminate, “just because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity”. According to Huggins, Nagy’s was the only testimony taken during the meeting.

According to Moscow City Councilman Tom Lamar,”The City administrative committee action of sending it forward to the two citizen commissions was not so much for edits, but rather asking for review and input. There were no edits or modification requested by the Council Committee.”

The draft will be presented for a public hearing sometime in March or April. Following the hearing, it will return to the Administrative Committee, who will then decide whether or not to pass it on to the full city council. Huggins speculates that if all goes well, the ordinance should be in front of the city council sometime in May.

If passed, Moscow would join Sandpoint, Boise, and Ketchum in banning LGBT discrimination within city limits. There is speculation that Idaho Falls and Pocatello may be the next cities to take up the matter. Leaders in both towns have previously expressed interest in the idea.

For the seventh time in as many years, Idaho lawmakers will once again be asked to amend the state’s Human Rights Act to include the words “sexual orientation and gender identity” on a state-wide level.

Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, (D) Boise, says that she’s prepared to sponsor the measure this session. The language of the bill would be similar to last year’s proposed amendment, with a few minor changes.

Now Playing: ‘Bully’ opens in Boise

Filmgoers and educators that signed up for tickets were treated to free screenings of Lee Hirsch’s controversial film ‘Bully’ over the weekend.

The film, which follows five teens over the course of a school year, has created controversy for its hard-hitting look at school bullying and its effects on the students, their families and their communities.

‘Bully’ was released nationwide on Friday.  It made its Idaho premiere at the Flicks Theater in Boise with two free screenings sponsored by the Boise Exchange Club and the Idaho Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Following the screening on Saturday, Boise counselor Kelli Sullivan led a discussion about the effects of bullying on teens in Idaho.

Sunday’s showing was targeted at area teachers.

The film’s message is an important one for Idaho.

According to the Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho, Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for Idahoans age 15-34 and for males age 10-14. Idaho also has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation.

Studies have shown that those who have been bullied and or harassed at school can be affected by the actions well into their adult years.

According to the 2012 Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey, out of 1,702  students in 48 public high schools, 22.8 percent report being bullied or harassed on school property within the last year.

A legislative measure that would have required school districts to develop action plans to deal with the problem failed to advance in the last session after the bill was held up by the chairman of the House Education Committee.

Republican Rep. Bob Nonini refused to give the bill a hearing because he didn’t feel the additional law was necessary.

You can catch the documentary, which was given a PG-13 rating earlier this month, at the Flicks located at 646 Fulton Street in Boise.

Click HERE for show times and other information.

 

 

Idaho’s Anti-Bullying Measure Dies in House Ed Committee

A bill that would have strengthened Idaho’s anti-bullying law appears to be dead after being held hostage by the House Education Committee.

According to the Coeur d’Alene Press, Republican Rep. Bob Nonini, the chairman of the education committee, refused to give the bill a hearing because he didn’t feel it was necessary.

“There is no need for lawmakers to impose additional anti-bullying policies on schools,” Nonini tells the newspaper.

Rep. Brian Cronin of Boise, a co-sponsor of the bill, tried unsuccessfully to use a parliamentary procedure in order to pull the bill out of committee for consideration by the full House.

“I am dismayed that my Republican colleagues refuse to even let the bill be heard and debated. Today’s action sends the unfortunate message to victims of bullies that they are on their own,” Cronin said in a press release on Tuesday.

According to the release, “the anti-bullying bill, which passed the Senate 25 to 8, would direct Idaho’s 115 school districts to develop clear anti-bullying policies and procedures.”

Idaho State Senator Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, was a sponsor and strong advocate of the legislation.  As we reported earlier today, Nonini told The Idaho Statesman on Wednesday morning that he was offended by a dvd copy of the film,”Brokeback Mountain,” mailed to him by LeFavour at Christmas. 

Currently, Idaho has the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation. Studies have shown that those who have been bullied and or harassed at school can be affected by the actions well into their adult years.

Among other things, the bill would have clarified, “the definition of bullying in Idaho schools, an infraction; required school districts to have policies and to train staff on the issue, and to report and address cases of bullying.”

Update: Utah Governor Vetos “Don’t Say Gay” Sex Ed Bill

Utah Governor Gary Herbert  used his red stamp on Friday night to veto a bill that would have banned teachers from discussing homosexuality and also have required sex ed teachers to teach “abstinence only.”

According to Reuters,”In vetoing the measure, dubbed HB 363, Herbert said that as a parent and grandparent he considered proper sex education in public schools an important component to the moral education youngsters receive at home.”

KEUR reports,”The bill had drawn strong public response and thousands of letters to the governor’s office. Allyson Isom, the governor’s spokesperson, says more than 90-percent of those letters and e-mails asked the governor to veto the bill.”

After its passage last month by Utah lawmakers, LGBT community leaders called the bill discriminatory and unfair because it would leave many LGBT youth in the dark when it comes to learning about their own sexualities. It also meant that straight students would no longer be taught any sort of scientific understanding when it comes to sexual and gender minorities.

“Governor Herbert may be taking a substantial political risk with the veto as he campaigns for re-election, Conservative activists within the Republican Party have urged him to sign the bill. ” reports the radio station.

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