TEDxBend: Nicole LeFavour | The Source Weekly - Bend

TEDxBend: Nicole LeFavour

Here's the dilemma: The organizers at TEDxBend want to keep the list of speakers a secret until the day of the event. They want you to trust them.

And, here's the problem: Even though the event isn't for another month, tickets for this year's TEDxBend, a day-long event of inspiring speeches and ideas, go on sale this Friday.

Last year, they sold out in four days.

This year, they expect to sell out even faster.

Yup. You need to take a leap of faith.

But we're here to help: The organizers gave us a peek at the list of speakers. And yes, they are impressive. And, what's more, they agreed to allow us to provide a sneak peek at two of those speakers. Each from very different backgrounds, but both incredibly strong and principled individuals who believe in the American dream, but perhaps in different manifestations.

Nicole LeFavour

In 2004, the Bend City Council added sexual orientation and gender identity to its non-discrimination ordinance. Three years later, the state followed suit. But in neighboring Idaho, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists and their supporters have been fighting for years just to have such an addition seriously considered by the state legislature.

Their campaign is the subject of the documentary Add the Words, which screened at last year's BendFilm Fest. In part, what makes the film so painfully compelling is that the film's central conflict is never resolved—and it continues to this day.

Nicole LeFavour, a writing professor and former lawmaker, is leading that charge. Idaho's first openly gay legislator, LeFavour served in the State House from 2004 to 2008 and the State Senate from 2008 to 2012.

"For eight years we had been bringing legislation to lawmakers and had not even once had a public hearing," LeFavour tells the Source.

Frustrated by the lack of progress, LeFavour and other activists tried civil disobedience, holding their first action on Feb. 3, 2014. They posted sticky notes in the statehouse and they slept on the steps, but lawmakers always found a way to ignore them. So they upped the ante, creating a human wall to block lawmakers' entrance to the chamber.

"We felt we had tried everything else," she says. "It grew out of increasing efforts to get them to hear us."

This year, LeFavour says, they were hopeful. They had drafted a compromise bill and secured a Republican co-sponsor in the House and the Senate. They even checked in with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to see if the language would be agreeable to House Speaker and Senate President Pro-Tem—both LDS church members—but the church declined to take a position. LeFavour says the bill has majority support, but the Speaker and Pro-Tem refuse to hear it.

"Most lawmakers we've talked to have LGBT family, I'd be surprised if they don't," she explains. "I think that they do both feel they need the blessing of the church."

At the end of January, activists saw a glimmer of hope when the bill finally had a hearing in the House State Affairs committee, but it never advanced.

"It has to be more difficult for them to do nothing than to do something," LeFavour says.

That's why she and the other demonstrators continue the fight. To date, some 120 protestors have been arrested. Not for anything violent, but typically for "trespassing," or not moving out of the way when officers ask them to. LeFavour says she has been arrested eight or nine times herself—including twice the day before she called the Source.

"I think we're close, everyone agrees were close," she says with conviction. "They have plenty of time left in the session."

LeFavour will speak at the 2015 TEDxBend about her experiences with civil disobedience.

Read about TEDxBend speaker Tchicaya Missamou here.


Saturday, April 18

Tickets on sale Friday, March 20

$55 single, $85 single and student sponsorship