Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series called “Campaign Breakthroughs.” Campaign Breakthroughs will highlight races that are breaking glass ceilings or shine the spotlight on the campaign worlds ground breaking achievements.
Running for political office as an LGBT candidate is already quite an undertaking. Running for office in a traditionally red state is a whole separate matter, requiring patience, determination, and a readiness to take on the toughest policy challenges. Working as an educator in Idaho schools for the past 11 years, John McCrostie has witnessed firsthand how legislative decisions made in top levels of government affect people’s everyday lives.
When Idaho was considering the adoption of the Students Come First legislation, which would institute cuts in education spending and roll back contract rights for teachers, John knew someone needed to stand up and speak out. After Idaho’s legislature passed the legislation despite overwhelming opposition, John worked with parents, teachers, and other local leaders to successfully repeal the laws.
With this fight over, John decided to run for House Seat 16A in Idaho’s Legislative District 16, which includes Garden City and portions of west and northwest Boise. If successful in his bid, John would be the only openly LGBT representative in the state legislature, and only the second known openly LGBT lawmaker in the state’s history.
John’s candidacy couldn’t have come at a more crucial moment, particularly in Idaho. Recently, a comprehensive “religious tolerance” bill passed in the state House’s State Affairs Committee is awaiting a floor vote. The legislation would allow Idaho business owners to discriminate against any patron for any reason, including sexual orientation and gender identity, based on their personal religious beliefs.
Positive developments are arriving as well – currently, a campaign is underway to amend Idaho’s Human Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Having people like John McCrostie in public office goes a long way towards closing these equality gaps, both for the LGBT community and others groups that for too long have been marginalized in politics. One out official in a state legislature may not seem like much, but in Idaho, it could make all the difference.
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