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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As the ranking member on the House Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning Committee, I had busy week discussing one of the most controversial measures of the 2023 legislative session: Senate Bill 5599.
The bill would allow youth shelters, and other similar organizations, to not to notify a parent if his or her child enters their facility seeking or receiving “gender affirming” treatment or reproductive health care services.
It passed out of committee this morning along a party line vote and now heads to the House Rules Committee, which schedules bills for the House floor.
Under current law, minors can already receive these services without parental knowledge or permission. This bill strictly deals with the duty of youth shelters to notify parents on the whereabouts of their children.
Today, if a runaway youth enters a youth shelter without parental permission, the shelter is required to report the location of the child, unless there's a compelling reason not to. In that case, the shelter must notify the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).
“Compelling reasons” include, but are not limited to, circumstances that indicate that notifying a parent or legal guardian will subject a minor to abuse or neglect. This bill would add gender affirming treatment and reproductive health care services as compelling reasons not to notify a parent.
Why I oppose this bill
I am concerned about parental rights and keeping the family unit intact. Parental rights are protected under the U.S. Constitution and they're pre-political rights. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment secures parental rights that would be eliminated under this bill. Moms and dads who are providing a safe home have the right to know where their kids are.
At the same time, I am supportive of the intent of this bill to reduce suicide rates. I don't believe, however, that we can achieve that goal by erecting barriers between families. Instead, we should keep families together and help them work through these difficult issues. Kids need their parents when they're dealing with these challenging issues.
Our attempts to fix this bill
Republicans on the committee proposed five amendments to fix various problems with the bill. All five amendments were rejected by the majority party.
- Public hearing Q&A | March 22
- House Republican amendments | March 23
- House Republican speeches on final passage | March 23
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It's an honor to serve you!
436 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
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