Washington State Senator Marko Liias announced on Twitter that his state’s senate passed SB 5599, a bill that would give the state government the power to take children away from their parents if the parents do not consent to the child’s gender transition surgery, in early March. At that point, the bill was headed to the House. It just passed the House and is now headed back to the Senate for consideration of the changes made.
Liias, the sponsor of the bill, cheering the bill’s passage, said, “Tonight, we passed #SB5599 to ensure at-risk youth have access to shelter when seeking gender-affirming or reproductive care. Trans youth have been under a nationwide attack, but #WALeg continues to fight for trans rights.”
Katie Daviscourt, a journalist in Washington, posted about the bill as well, saying “Last night, Washington state passed SB 5599 which allows the state to legally take children away from their parents if they don’t consent to their child’s gender transition surgeries. All Democrats voted, yes. All Republicans voted, no.”
The press release put out by Liias when the bill passed the Senate says “Under current law, if a child who has run away from home goes to a licensed shelter, that shelter is required to notify the parents unless a compelling reason applies. The bill allows certified shelters to contact the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) in lieu of parents in certain additional instances, such as when a youth is seeking reproductive health services or gender-affirming care.”
It also quotes Liias as saying, “This bill is an important step in ensuring young people across the state have a roof over their heads during an already challenging period in their life. While we hope that every child has a supportive family that will provide them with acceptance and the care they need, it’s crucial that we provide housing options to those in crisis.”
The press release also quoted Danni Askini, Executive Director of Gender Justice League as saying, “This bill is such an important step towards protecting our at-risk youth in Washington. It takes immense courage and bravery for trans youth to come out to their family and ask for support. All young people in Washington State should have the right to be safe, true to themselves, and to live free of violence. This bill helps us ensure the safety and opportunity of some of the most vulnerable young people we work with.”
Another press release was put out after the House passed the bill last night, saying “Under current law, licensed shelters must notify parents if a child comes into their care, unless a compelling reason applies. This legislation allows licensed shelters to contact the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) in lieu of parents in certain additional instances, like when a young person is seeking reproductive health services or gender-affirming care.”
Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, put out a press statement hammering the legislation, saying that “the state Senate’s majority Democrats passed legislation that would give youth-related facilities a troubling new excuse for withholding the whereabouts of runaway children from their parents. Under Senate Bill 5599, those children could effectively disappear by simply claiming they are seeking what the bill calls “protected health services,” such as gender counseling or puberty-blocking chemicals.”
Continuing, the press release went on to highlight other dangers of the bill, saying:
“The legislation, passed on a party-line vote, would not allow teens staying at licensed youth shelters or host homes to undergo “gender-affirming” surgery without parental approval. Nor would it allow other parents to hide children. But it does clear the way for children between ages 13 and 18 to stay at these facilities without their parents’ knowledge for an indefinite time while seeking services related to gender dysphoria and gender transitioning.
“It also clears a path for any teenager to “game the system.” A child can run away to a youth shelter, claim they are seeking protected health care services even if they really aren’t, and be hidden from their parents. It would not be the first time a teenager would take advantage of a legal loophole to avoid general accountability.”
He also gave a speech warning about the dangers of the bill in which he said:
“The sponsors of Senate Bill 5599 have said on the record that they want safe spaces where children have the freedom to express their true selves and that Washington must clear a path to ensure success for every child. I agree. Like so many other health-related situations, gender dysphoria presents unique needs that deserve attention. But this should not mean removing parents from the decision-making process.
“If it becomes law, this bill would disenfranchise loving parents who deserve to have a say in the care of their teenage children. Children between the ages of 13 and 18 can already access these same health- and mental-health services under Washington law, without their parents’ permission. The only thing SB 5599 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.
“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. It’s also wrong how this bill would also apply to children from other states who may travel thousands of miles for services not available to them at home. Unless there is reason to suspect parental abuse or harm, parents deserve to know where their teenagers are.
“Democrats have claimed many times that the brains of minors are not fully developed until age 22. Right now, they are sponsoring a juvenile offender sentencing bill [Senate Bill 5475] based on ‘the expansive body of scientific research on brain development, which shows that adolescents’ perception, judgment, and decision-making skills differs significantly from that of adults.’ It’s revealing how brain research matters to them when juveniles break the law, but not when they seek life-altering, potentially irreversible health care.”
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