Thu. Sep 28th, 2023

Shiva Rajbhandari, 18, won election to the Boise Public Schools Board of Trustees. In a post on Twitter, he criticized Gov. Brad Little for signing House Bill 71, which bans gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

Shiva Rajbhandari, 18, won election to the Boise Public Schools Board of Trustees. In a post on Twitter, he criticized Gov. Brad Little for signing House Bill 71, which bans gender-affirming care for transgender minors.

A first-year Boise School District trustee — who also is a student — aimed a profanity-laden post on social media at Gov. Brad Little after the second-term Republican signed a law Tuesday that bans gender-affirming care for Idaho youths who identify as transgender and non-binary.

Shiva Rajbhandari, 18, a senior at Boise High School sworn into his elected role on the school board in September, criticized Little for his decision on Twitter late Tuesday.

“F— you @GovernorLittle,” Rajbhandari wrote. “I pray you live a long life so you can bear witness to the pain you’ve unleashed on Idaho’s children and families today. When you do die though, I’m pissing on your grave.”

By Wednesday evening, the tweet had garnered nearly 200 comments, more than 400 likes and 85 retweets.

Reached by the Idaho Statesman on Wednesday, Rajbhandari said he did not intend to offend anyone but was “unapologetic in my commitment in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community” and against Little’s action.

“No, I don’t regret standing with trans and non-binary youth,” Rajbhandari said in a phone interview. “Generally, profanity is not a good way to advance civil discourse. But the Legislature has made pretty clear that diplomacy is ineffective at solving the problem — the problem of hatred and intolerance concerning an entire sect of Idahoans just based on who they are and who they love.”

Little’s signature on House Bill 71 makes Idaho the 10th U.S. state to ban gender-affirming care, according to previous Statesman reporting. Idaho physicians who provide such care to transgender minors could face up to 10 years in prison for violating the law.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho said Wednesday that it plans to sue to block the law.

Rajbhandari said he left a voicemail with the governor’s office last week asking that Little veto the bill. He did not receive a response, Rajbhandari said.

The governor’s office did not return a Statesman request for comment about Rajbhandari’s tweet Wednesday.

The Idaho State Police provides security detail for Little. The agency investigates potential threats to the governor, when they are deemed credible and could be prosecuted as a crime.

“The Idaho State Police is aware of the tweet, and we take matters of safety for public officials seriously,” ISP spokesperson Aaron Snell told the Statesman.

Rajbhandari emphasized to the Statesman that he doesn’t speak for the school board, and his Twitter account represents his individual views, which he also includes in his platform bio. He said he abides by all school board policies, including the district’s code of ethics, and does not think his tweet at Little represents a possible violation.

Messages left by the Statesman with Boise Board of Trustees President Dave Wagers did not receive a response Wednesday evening. Sharon Mast, the board clerk, also did not respond to a Statesman voicemail or email.

Rajbhandari, serving a 2-year term on the school board for the district he still attends, said he received a few critical emails and tweets in response to his post. He said he welcomes individuals who take issue with his position to have an in-person conversation with him or to attend an upcoming school board meeting to offer public comment.

Rajbhandari said he understands people might have concerns about his approach and the language used in the post. Still, he’s unwavering in standing up against the law and Little’s signing of it.

“You can’t legislate trans people out of existence, but you certainly can make their lives difficult, and bring tragedy to communities and families, and that’s what I think this legislation does,” Rajbhandari said. “I think this should really be a wake-up call to Idahoans that they get the government that they vote for, and that we all need to be more involved in state and local politics.

“ … We will never, ever back down on trans and non-binary youth. You don’t back down when people you love are on the line.”

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Kevin Fixler is an investigative reporter with the Idaho Statesman. He previously covered local government, environment and transportation at The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, California, and the Summit Daily News in Breckenridge, Colorado. He holds degrees from the University of Denver and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism.
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