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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

LGBTQIA+ Rep. Stephanie Vigil nears end of 1st year in office

Photo+courtesy+of+Stephanie+Vigil
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Vigil

When Stephanie Vigil decided to run for elected office, her own life experience motivated her to fight to give people in Colorado better lives.

Vigil was elected to the House of Representatives in the Colorado General Assembly Nov. 8, 2022, less than two weeks before five people were killed and 25 were injured in the shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The shooting occurred in the House District 16 of Colorado, the same district Vigil had just been elected to represent. 

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“When I ran for my seat, I used this phrase in a lot of my outreach, and I still kind of stick to it,” Vigil said. “It’s still a guiding principle for me and my legislative work as well, which is to fight for a solid foundation and light for every Coloradan.”

As the first LGBTQIA+ individual from El Paso County to be elected to the state legislature, Vigil was already in the spotlight as she prepared to take office. The shooting at Club Q impacted the community that had just chosen her to represent them, and Vigil was determined to help that community as she stepped into her new role.

“It’s just being able to keep at it day after day and knowing that you’re going to have wins and losses and still be able to come back and keep trying,” Vigil said. “I’ve just kind of taken the approach that, like, I’m here for people, I’m part of this community and I’m going to look out for people’s rights.”

One of the things Vigil focused on in the months following the shooting was how to help and protect victims of mass shootings and bias-motivated attacks. Vigil said she’s been in touch with survivors to make sure they have access to the resources they need and to do what she can to help them in the aftermath.

“It’s kind of never over for them,” Vigil said. “Other people can kind of forget about it until the next atrocity occurs. But for people who survived it, there’s a before and after in their lives now: before the shooting and after the shooting. They’ll never get to just move on. So I’ve really committed to that for myself as a representative of this community. If it’s not over for them, it’s not over for me.”

As part of an ongoing effort to protect transgender people in Colorado, the state legislature is currently working on a bill to map the landscape of gender-affirming care throughout the state in partnership with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, Vigil said.

Beyond the fight for LGBTQIA+ rights in the state, Vigil remains committed to helping people through her legislative work in housing and transportation. The goal isn’t just to help those who currently need it, she said, but also to find a lasting solution to problems to ensure that everyone has a better foundation.

“I’m interested in a holistic approach to how we can help people have healthier, happier childhoods and healthier families and have better-connected communities,” Vigil said. “In my book, you go as far upstream as you can to stop people from falling in the water in the first place instead of fishing them out later.”

As she approaches the end of her first year in office, Vigil said she believes more than ever in the importance of local government.

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“Organizing politically from the bottom up is not just a good way or the best way to make change; it is the only way to make change,” Vigil said. “There’s no one who we could make president tomorrow who’s going to change this country for the better all by themselves. It’s always going to have to start with regular people working with those around them who are most readily available and changing what they can that’s within reach and building on it from there. That’s how we get things done.”

Reach Hannah Parcells at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @hannahparcells.

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About the Contributor
Hannah Parcells, News Editor
Hannah Parcells is currently the news editor at The Collegian, a role that she loves dearly. Parcells uses she/her pronouns and began writing for The Collegian in fall 2023 as a reporter under the news, science, opinion and life and culture desks.  Parcells is currently pursuing two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in political science with a concentration in global politics. Parcells has always been passionate about understanding and helping other people and hopes to use her education to try and leave the world a little better than she found it.  Raised in Castle Rock, Colorado, Parcells grew up with a love of learning, music and writing. She’s always working to learn more about the world through history and art and loves being introduced to new places, people and ideas.  On the off chance that she’s not buried in textbooks, research papers and policy analyses, Hannah can be found on a hike, watching movies or at any local bookstore or coffee shop, feeding her ongoing addictions to both caffeine and good books. Parcells is incredibly proud of the work she’s done at The Collegian so far and is excited to continue that work as an editor of the news desk.

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