The Utah LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce moved a planned event to Zions Bank’s Founders Hall after the bank withdrew its support for Boise Pride following threats related to a “Drag Kids” event.
The group’s annual LGBTQ+ economic summit, scheduled for September 22, will be moved to the Community Opportunity Center, formerly the Columbus Center, in South Salt Lake.
Earlier this month, Idaho State Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley, chairwoman of the Idaho Republican Party, publicly opposed the planned youth programming at the Boise Pride Festival. His office released several statements urging the public to contact festival sponsors to express their “disappointment” and “consider removing [their] financial support or patronage” from these sponsors.
As a result, Zions Bank has received numerous calls, texts, emails and other communications, some threatening violence, condemning its support of Boise Pride.
Zions Bank posted the following statement on its Twitter feed in response:
“Over the years, Zions Bank has supported a variety of Pride events because they are an important part of our support for our LGBTQ employees and allies and are representative of our efforts to foster an inclusive workplace and community, diverse and fair. This support for all of our employees and communities remains unchanged. However, when we signed on to sponsor this year’s Boise Pride event, we were unaware of any event activities involving children/minors. Since becoming aware of these specific activities, we have made the decision to withdraw our participation in this year’s Boise Pride event and have communicated this to the event organizers.
“The Chamber and its members appreciate Zions Bank’s strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, as well as its support of many community organizations,” the Chamber published. in a press release. “However, we are deeply saddened by this decision which goes against Zion’s own standards and our expectations of our business partners.”
“Historically, one of the most pernicious weapons that enemies of the LGBTQ+ community have used against us is to equate homosexuality (and later any non-heterosexual or cisgender identity) with pedophilia,” the statement continued. “This rhetoric fell out of favor for a while, but has come back with a vengeance in recent years. Nationally, LGBTQ+ and gender diverse youth are under attack, and anyone who supports them is branded a “groomer” or a pedophile. We see these attacks take the form of book bans, “don’t say gay” laws, bans on gender-affirming medical care, bans on trans sports, declarations of parental support for trans children as well as child abuse and conversion therapy support. ”
Chamber leaders say LTBQ+ youth are paying the price.
According to the Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey of LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 45% of LGBTQ+ youth have seriously considered suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth. Fourteen percent said they had attempted suicide. This number rises to 20% for young people of diverse gender identities. Rates of violence, discrimination, homelessness and poor mental health outcomes continue to rise.
Affirming families, affirming communities, affirming LGBTQ+ spaces and representation are the antidotes to these problems, House leaders said.
“The opportunities for children to meet and see other people like them are powerful. It is equally imperative to provide them with a safe space to express and explore their identity. Young people without these opportunities instead turn to dangerous or harmful behaviors, including self-harm and suicide,” the group said.
“Many members of our community experience daily persecution, violent threats and harassing communications such as those Zions received,” they continued. “Rather than condemn these threats and harassment, Zions has withdrawn its support of Boise Pride. Whether intentionally or inadvertently, Zions Bank’s public statements support the idea that being LGBTQ+ is wrong and that affirming our youth in their identity harms and corrupts them. These statements reinforced the disgusting and harmful dogma surrounding the controversy and taught our adversaries that violent tactics work.
“We respect Zions concern for the safety of its employees. Every major public LGBTQ+ event faces these same safety issues, responds to them as best they can with their limited resources, and proceeds with caution,” they wrote. “We take these calculated risks because we know from experience that letting our enemies push us back into the dark threatens a far greater loss of life. Our adversaries prefer that we die quietly in the closet. We refuse. Pride is a celebration to come out of this darkness and choose to live. This is why we must allow our children to participate. Pride saves lives.
The group hopes to continue working with Zions Bank executives “to help them develop a culture of inclusion.” They will have further discussions with the bank to determine their relationship going forward.
They call on the bank, the Idaho Republican Party, and Rep. Moon to publicly condemn the violent threats against Boise Pride and the LGBTQ+ community.
“Legitimate political and social discourse can only take place in the absence of threats. We invite everyone to learn more about the issues facing the LGBTQ+ community and how best to support diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in their communities and organizations,” they said.
The Chamber can be found at utahlgbtqchamber.org and the Economic Summit event page is at utahlgbtqchamber.org/utah-lgbtq-economic-summit
Full results of the 2022 National LGBTQ Youth Mental Health Survey are available at: thetrevorproject.org/survey-2022/