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Idaho closes legislative session with a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ laws

Idaho State Capitol Building Boise

The new laws take direct aim at gender-affirming care for minors and the trans community.

The Idaho State Legislature adjourned its 2024 session on Wednesday having passed three new laws that target gender-affirming care, permit the practice of misgendering and deadnaming in public schools, and define gender as a binary sexual concept. Republican Gov. Brad Little signed all three bills with some taking effect in a few months.

House Bill 668, bans public funds including Medicaid from covering gender-affirming care. The bill was sent to the governor on March 26 and signed the following day. The law becomes effective on July 1.

House Bill 421 defines gender as a synonym for biological sex and “shall not be considered a synonym for gender identity, an internal sense of gender, experienced gender, gender expression, or gender role.” The bill was sent to the governor on April 3 and was signed on April 9.

Also sent to the governor on April 3 was House Bill 538, which requires educators to address unemancipated minor students by their “legal name or a derivative thereof” unless they have obtained the written consent of the student’s parent or guardian. The law allows educators and students to misgender or deadname others without any resulting disciplinary action.This year's legislative attacks against the LGBTQ+ community continue a trend in the state.

Related: Thousands of paper hearts flood Idaho capital as lawmakers pass anti-LGBTQ+ bills

Last year Idaho signed a new law that banned gender-affirming care for minors, with potential felony charges and up to 10 years in jail for some violations. The law banned not only gender-affirming surgery but also puberty blockers and hormone therapy. A federal appeals court has blocked the law from taking effect while it considers a lawsuit filed by two trans teens who say the law violates their rights to equal protection.

After House Bill 538 was signed into law, protestors showered the rotunda of the Idaho State Capital building in Boise with 48,000 small paper hearts. Organizers said the hearts represented the number of folks in the state’s LGBTQ+ community and also sent a message that the community’s voice goes unheard in the state’s legislature.

“It feels like they have not been listening,” Rebecca De León, spokesperson for the ACLU of Idaho, told the Idaho Statesman, “so we wanted to come bring the hearts to them.”

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