Washington State to Ignite Parental Rights War With Bill Targeting Runaway Youth
Washington State is poised to potentially enact an amended law essentially stripping parents’ rights to stop a child from seeking a gender transition, adding another layer to the ever-complex culture wars.
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Senate Bill 5599, titled “Supporting Youth and Young Adults Seeking Protected Health Care Services, permitting licensed shelters and homes to house runaways “without parental permission” and without the need to notify parents about medical treatments if “compelling” reasons exist to withhold information.
If signed by the Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, the bill, which passed the Washington House in a 57-39 vote on Wednesday, would go into law 90 days after the legislative session adjourns.
The bill covers “youth seeking protected health services,” which would include minors seeking gender procedures, according to Fox News.
“Youth seeking certain medical services are especially at risk and vulnerable,” the text of one version of the bill reads. “Therefore, the legislature intends to remove barriers to accessing temporary, licensed shelter accommodations for youth seeking certain protected health care services.”
“Gender-affirming services” is among the reasons a shelter would be permitted to not report the whereabouts of a minor, with “reproductive health care services” also listed in the bill’s text.
Shelters housing children seeking such services would reportedly contact the Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families instead of parents or guardians.
SB 5599 exempts youth shelters and host homes from notifying the parents of children at their facilities seeking transgender treatment. 86 signed in PRO and 4,657 signed in CON. We strongly oppose the bill. #waleg #UnaccountableWA #UnwiseWA
SB 5599: https://t.co/6vwD0hXJQj pic.twitter.com/3V25K17NNg
— WA Senate Republicans (@WashingtonSRC) March 1, 2023
Critics were quick to sound the alarm on Senate Bill 5599, with Washington State Senate Republican Leader John Braun expressing his belief the legislation undermines parental rights.
“The only thing [the bill] would do is cause harm by driving a wedge between vulnerable kids and their parents, at a time when a teen lacks the perception and judgment to make critical life-altering decisions,” Braun said after the House vote.
He continued, “A parent may not even know why the child ran away and could involve law enforcement or other groups in a desperate search … all the while going through an unnecessary emotional nightmare, imagining the worst about what might have happened.”
Republican State Rep. Jim Walsh called the bill “legally, ethically and morally” wrong, and said thousands of residents have reached out to his office to express alarm.
“Sponsors and supporters of this bill have overstepped the constitution and case law in promoting this policy, which would allow state bureaucrats to hide minor children from custodial parents and legal guardians,” he said. “This is not the first policy approved this session that turns the power and machinery of state government against families. Lawmakers promoting these changes put wedges between children and their parents, grandparents, and the people who love them.”
But supporters heralded the passage as an effort to protect transgender kids.
State Democratic Sen. Marko Liias, who sponsored the Senate bill, put out a statement claiming the proposal “affirms that trans youth are protected in Washington state by removing barriers to safe shelter.”
The politician said the effort helps kids in homes where parents might not be “supportive.”
“This legislation gives meaningful choices to young people who may not have supportive families at home so they do not end up on the street, but instead have shelter options when seeking this life-saving care,” the statement read.
Senate Bill 5599 is heading back to the Washington Senate to review amendments made in the House.
The law is certain to up the ante on debates about the government’s overreach into parental rights.
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