POCATELLO, Idaho - The Add the Words campaign has been made into a documentary. The Add the Words campaign is working to get "gender identity" and "sexual orientation" added onto Idaho's Civil Rights Act.
Those involved say they are trying to show gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children that their state supports and loves them. Those in the documentary are seen holding photos of at least two young Pocatello residents that took their own lives after being bullied.
The documentary features many people in Idaho as they struggle to make their voices heard in the Idaho Legislature. One scene shows former Idaho Sen. Nicole LeFavour being told by an angry man, "You know what? The rest of the state doesn't want you around here. That's why there aren't those words and there won't be those words."
That message, according to the documentary, is what Idaho's LGBT children hear by the state's silence on the issue, an issue that has been pushed off by the state's leaders since 2006. That's why, in the film, protesters are seen holding their left hand over their mouth, to signify not only the silence of the Idaho Congress, but the voices they have silenced by not allowing the measure to be heard for eight years.
Carmen Stanger, a field advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said it's vital to children to allow them to be heard. She said otherwise they feel unimportant and that can lead to making a decision that could be avoided with simple recognition.
"We want them to prosper, we want them to stay here, we want them to build a future for Idaho and we want them to continue to move forth with their future generations," said Stanger.
The documentary focuses on why adding the words is a problem, while showing LGBT folks in their normal, daily lives. The documentary tells many stories, including the story of Julie Zicha, who says her son was bullied and beaten up before ultimately taking his own life
"How does family deal with a world that says that some of their kids are lesser?" said LeFavour in the documentary. Stanger, who hadn't seen the documentary at the time of the interview, said this is clearly a matter that needs to be addressed in Idaho, which has one of the highest youth suicide rates in the country.
"Any life lost is one life too many," she said. "The youth in our community and around the entire state need to feel valued and feel like they have hope."
She said she knows all too well what the lack of these words can do and it's featured with an image of her daughter at one of the Add the Words protests. Her daughter, Maddie Beard, took her own life during the making of this film.
The room was filled with crying people as these stories were told, as protesters were arrested time and time again, and as elected officials, including Gov. Butch Otter avoided the protesters by using side doors and back hallways in the Capitol building.
"I've talked to people that have been through many of the things Maddie's been through and they are making progress little by little," Stanger said. "We have to continue to do that together. It's amazing what we can do when we all work together."
After the film was over, many in the crowd stood and applauded the co-directors and producers, Michael D. Gough and Cammie Pavesic, who brought the film to the test screening.
Pavesic told the crowd she has heard folks say the film is one sided, but she simply says there are no sides when it comes to human rights. She says it's either human rights or discrimination. She and her co-director and producer said they plan to take the film to festivals and show it outside of the state in places like California, New York and Massachusetts – states that have dealt with this years ago.
Their hope is to put pressure on the state's leaders to do what they say is the right thing – Add the Words. The movie first showed in Boise June 15.
Pocatello is the second city to have a test screening of the film. For more information about the movie, click here: addthewordsmovie.com.