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BOISE, IDAHO – Tonight, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH) commends the Ada County Commissioners for unanimously passing a non-discrimination ordinance. This county-wide ordinance, whose reach is unprecedented in Idaho, will extend protections not only to Ada County residents in unincorporated areas of Boise and Meridian, which already have NDOs, but also to unincorporated areas of cities currently lacking protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, such as Eagle, Star, Kuna, Garden City, and Hidden Springs. The leadership of these commissioners means  residents in Ada County will benefit from protections in employment, housing, and use of public accommodations regardless of who they love or who they are.

A total of 27 people signed up for public testimony, all in favor of the ordinance. Supporters of the ordinance shared their stories about how these extended protections will make a difference in their lives. 

Carolyn Blackhurst, a high school Sunday school teacher and youth leader, was among those who testified in favor of the ordinance. She expressed the need she saw.

“At camps, in Sunday school, and in youth group meetings, I have had many kids share with me the fear and hurt they’ve experienced because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender,” Blackhurst said. “These kids have been rejected by their families, their churches, their friends, their youth leaders, and more, simply because of the way they were born. They are bullied and picked on and feel unsafe in their schools and community. Many of these kids feel suicidal or have attempted self-harm. Our youth are hurting and they are afraid. And as a person of faith, I am not okay with that. It breaks my heart.”

“We are proud of Ada County tonight,” said Mistie Tolman, Idaho State Director for PPVNH. “This much needed ordinance is common sense and aligns with what the majority of people across this nation believe: no one should face discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This move is a courageous step forward in stating that discrimination based on who a person is, how they identify, or who they love has no place in our communities. This should be an easy step to take for legislators, yet Ada County Commissioners are the first representatives for an entity larger than a city to publicly take this stand and make this step, and we applaud them for it.”

Despite the more than 15 years of tireless work the Add The Words coalition has done on a state level, the legislature still refuses to adopt any language to protect LGBTQ+ people, forcing cities and counties around the state to do it for them in local ordinances. Currently, 13 municipalities have passed some measure to incorporate nondiscrimination ordinances that disallow people to face discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Ada County and Latah County had passed such ordinances for their county employees only.