by Melissa Vera
As written, the Idaho Human Rights Act does not include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity. That's something a group of Idahoans is working to change, and they're rallying supporters to help them do so.
The Safe Schools and Fair Employment Rally will work to forward the cause of expanding legal protections against discrimination, as well as battling bullying in schools. Supporters are asked to gather on the steps of Idaho State Capitol at noon on Saturday, Jan. 29, to rally behind the effort.
"After I graduate college, I want to live in a place which guarantees me the freedom to live my personal life and be who I am without living in fear of being fired for talking about my partner in a work setting or putting a picture of my family on my desk," said Boise State student and rally organizer Lindsay Matson.
"The U.S. Department of Education has asked all states to create more effective anti-bullying laws, and a majority of Fortune 500 companies already include sexual orientation and gender identity in their employment policies—that is why we're doing this," she added.
The rally also seeks to bring more awareness of bullying within the school system. According to bullypolice.org, Idaho is graded at an A-, while other states—including Wyoming and New Hampshire—have A++ grades.
"Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender kids feel overall unsafe in their school environment," Matson said. "Bullying is linked closely with suicide attempts, so creating laws which train teachers how to deal with harassment in the classroom, and which name categories of children which have been historically targeted, is vitally important to Idaho's children—our future."
"Legislators need to know that all Idahoans want to be part of a step toward equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender citizens," Matson wrote in an e-mail to Citydesk. "We all deserve to feel safe where we work, learn and live."