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LGBTQ+ supporters rally in Missoula ahead of Van Garderen v. Montana

People gathered in Missoula to rally in support of the plaintiffs prior to the start of the Van Garderen v. Montana case.
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Posted at 5:22 PM, Sep 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-18 19:26:13-04

MISSOULA — Prior to the Van Garderen v. Montana case on Monday, Sept. 18, 2023, at 3 p.m., people gathered on the Missoula County Courthouse lawn for a rally in support of the plaintiffs.

The rally began at 3 p.m. where attendees held signs and wrote messages on the sidewalk with chalk. One message wrote “gender affirming care saves lives” and another said, “protect trans youth.”

The Western Montana LGBTQ+ Community Center held a booth at the rally with opportunities for donations.

The Center's executive director Andy Nelson, said seeing the crowd brought a bit of positivity before the case.
"It gives me a sense of hope,” he said. “You know, there's parents here, there's youth here, there's everyday community members from Missoula and beyond just here to be supportive."

Those who rallied hoped their presence would instill that hope in the trans youth themselves.

“I think it’s really important that the youth know that we are here supporting them and that they got the older generation fighting for their rights,” River Segar, a rally attendee said.

Segar’s younger sibling, who is gender diverse, inspired him to attend the event on Monday.

“It’s especially important to show up for our trans youth and show them that there is a bright future ahead of them no matter what other people are going to say and that there are other adults that are trans that are thriving, who they could potentially look up to and that support them,” Erin Heaton, another rally attendee, said.

Heaton is themselves trans and hopes to demonstrate how many Missoulians feel about the bill. Following the hearing, a panel discussion was planned with case lawyers at 6 p.m.