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New Idaho proposals again target LGBTQ+ rights. Here's how the community responded

Sally Krutzig, Idaho Statesman on

Published in News & Features

BOISE, Idaho — More than 48,000 hearts rained down from the fourth floor of the rotunda at the Idaho Capitol, as more than a dozen protesters dropped the colored paper over the railings Tuesday afternoon.

The shaped mailers were a symbol of the 48,000 Idaho residents who identified as part of the LGBTQ+ population in the 2020 Census, according to the ACLU of Idaho. The organization had asked Idahoans to mail in homemade paper hearts to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community as lawmakers again pushed bills targeting the population.

“As we fight anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, we wish to remind Gov. Little and the Idaho State Legislature how many people these laws would affect,” ACLU posted on social media.

Within 10 days, more than 48,000 hearts of all shapes, sizes and colors were sent in by mail, according to the ACLU of Idaho. Jenna Damron, ACLU advocacy fellow, said they came in from across the state, from Coeur d’Alene to Blackfoot. The protesters promptly picked the mailers up after dropping them.

Idaho lawmakers this year brought forward at least nine bills directly targeting LGBTQ+ rights, Rebecca De León, spokesperson for the ACLU of Idaho, told the Idaho Statesman. Those bills included legislation to redefine “gender” as synonymous with sex, ban public funds from going to gender-affirming care and forbid pride flags in the classroom.

Gov. Brad Little signed into law the bill to ban public funding for gender-affirming care, which will prevent residents from using Medicaid funds for those treatments and potentially impact state employees.

The Senate could also soon vote on a bill that would prevent public employees from being required to use people’s preferred pronouns, a proposal LGBTQ+ advocates said would create hostile work environments for transgender and nonbinary employees. A legislative panel advanced the bill to the Senate floor Friday after testimony mostly in opposition.


“We wanted specifically lawmakers to be able to see the hearts and to hear what we have been trying to tell them all session,” De León told the Statesman. “It feels like they have not been listening, so we wanted to come bring the hearts to them.”

Both the House and Senate had convened on the floors at the time of the protest.

The Rev. Sara LaWall, with the Boise Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and mother to a transgender child, said she hopes that legislators see how many Idahoans they are affecting.

“These represent people that they are hurting with their legislation,” LaWall told the Statesman. “It has real, devastating consequences and impacts.”


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