BOISE, Idaho — An all-female production crew is working on a documentary telling the story of 'The Boise 7'.
In 1977, seven women — Mary Morris, Janine Townsend, Lavonne Woody, Vardell Laursen, Judith Baker, Theresa Silva, and Sue Krohn — were fired from the Boise Police Department for "suspected lesbianism." The firing followed an internal investigation where the seven were wiretapped on a telephone used for personal conversations. The wiretap was later ruled illegal by a judge.
Mary Morris was Boise's first female patrol officer.
Sue Krohn said her supervisor at the time called her into his office where he played a recording of a phone call between Krohn and another woman. The call was recorded on a phone designated for personal calls.
"I said, 'What is this all about?', and he said some of the women had been inappropriate, I think is the word he used at that time with me, at work so we've let them go, and I don't think you're a part of it, I don't think you're a lesbian, but you lived in the house with all these women and plus that phone call — you need to make a decision. Either you can quit, or we'll terminate you."
The story quickly garnered national attention. The women had to not only deal with being fired but also being publicly forced out of the closet.
"I couldn't tell my parents, but I had to. I couldn't do it. I didn't want to tell them I was gay, that I was fired, and then my dad disowned me. He wouldn't talk to me. It was too much. I couldn't deal with that," said Janine Townsend.
The incident with the group of women, known as the "Boise 7," happened 22 years after the "Boys of Boise" scandal, which painted gay men as pedophiles. Charges were even brought against gay men who were sexually active with consenting adults, and police raids were conducted across the city.
Despite 22 years in between the "Boys of Boise" and the firing of the Boise 7, the effects were still tangible to the women.
"I'm pretty sure that those parents were all talked to about us, wanting to know if anything, if we had done anything to their kids. God, it just made me sick. God," Woody said.
Idaho is one of three states in the country that prohibits sodomy and oral copulation. In 2003, the US Supreme Court ruled prohibitions against anal and oral sex with no other factors are unconstitutional.
Despite this, Idaho continues to enforce its now-infamous"crimes against nature" statute. It's currently being reviewed in the US District Court of Idaho.
"Idaho has one of those prohibitions it's had one since it was a territory, through its entire history of being a state, and it still tries to enforce it, and it still tries to get people who were convicted before Lawrence and 2003 to register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. Hopefully, we will have some sort of clarity about how the state can still use this and force people who are convicted in the 1990s for having gay sex to still register as sex offenders" said Matthew Strugar, a lawyer in the case.
Ann Cabano, the producer and director of "The Forgotten Boise 7," says the city of Boise and the Boise Police Department never issued an official apology.
The documentary team is raising money to help finish the project. For more information on the film and fundraising efforts, click here.