Opinion: Legislating misery in the state of Idaho

Can we legislate misery?

I don’t know, but given this legislative session, I believe we are giving it the college try. We entered the session with so much potential. We had a large budget surplus, a new session with many new faces in the Legislature and so many problems to tackle.

We could have done so much. We didn’t.

Tuesday, Gov. Little signed House Bill 71 into law. This bill prohibits parents from making certain health care decisions about their children. To be honest, that makes it sound less venomous than it actually is. Specifically, it bans gender-affirming care of minors in this state.

The largest impact is going to be on youth, and, frankly, adults who are still trying to figure out who they are. I can’t speak to growing up trans because I did not. However, I did grow up as a member of the LGBTQ community.

I grew up in a conservative family. I even attended a private school. You know the kind. They are supposed to keep things like this from happening to “good families” by shielding impressionable youth from all of those pesky non-conforming thoughts or any “deviant” ideas. It did not change who I was. It did not make me straight, and it certainly did not make me gay.

I felt that I was broken. I feared losing my friends, my family, my career and really any life that was worth living. That’s a dangerous thought. I am lucky. I survived. I held on to the hope that things would get better. To this day I still carry scars and fear. I wonder what my life would have been like if all of those years instead of being afraid of myself I could have been confident in myself. I wish that I could get back all of the time that I questioned the love and acceptance of those that I cared about.

I can’t.

Today so many individuals, including our youth, are in that same situation. Many will not be as lucky as I was. Many will spend much of their childhood living in the same fear that I did. Some are going to grow up in families that see them for who they are and embrace them. They will try to do what most parents do which is love and accept their children. Doing whatever they can to support them and hopefully prevent them from ever questioning one of the most basic relationships. The love between a parent and child.

Apparently, according to the Idaho state Legislature and Gov. Little, unconditional love and acceptance are dangerous. HB 71 does two things: It takes away a parent’s ability to accept their child, and it codifies the idea that being trans is somehow deviant and wrong.

It is an attempt by one group to target and marginalize another. History rarely looks kindly at groups that seek to marginalize other groups. Funny thing about history. If you don’t like what history shows, you can always hide it, ignore it and certainly not teach about it. And if that is not enough, you can always ban the books.

David Roth is a member of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee and was the 2022 Democratic nominee to the U.S. Senate.