The bill, which passed the Democrat-controlled House on Wednesday by a vote of 57-39, had previously passed in the state Senate, meaning it could soon head to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee. Before that, the state Senate needs to vote on an amendment that the House added.
The bill adds text to Washington state law meaning that “a minor is seeking or receiving protected health care services” including “gender-affirming care” and “reproductive health care” can be a “compelling reason” for shelters to not notify parents, but instead notify the Washington Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF). An amendment added in the House gives the DCYF the ability to make the decision whether or not to contact the parents of the runaway child.
“Therefore, the legislature intends to remove barriers to accessing temporary, licensed shelter accommodations for youth seeking certain protected health care services,” the bill reads.
The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Marko Liias, a Democrat who represents an area just north of Seattle and is co-chair of the LGBTQ caucus. “This legislation ensures that our trans youth have safe options and access to secure, stable shelter when they may not be welcome at home,” Liias claimed.
Legislation to protect transgender and at-risk youth seeking gender-affirming or reproductive care passed the House yesterday! SB 5599 affirms that trans youth are protected in Washington state by removing barriers to safe shelter. #WALeg pic.twitter.com/rlkj7MpvjI
— Sen. Marko Liias (@SenMarkoLiias) April 13, 2023
Republicans at the state House, who all voted against the bill, said that it represented a huge erosion of parental rights.
“These are pre-political rights upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court multiple times. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment secures the rights this bill seeks to eliminate. The state has no legitimate authority to get between moms and dads – who are providing a safe home – and their children. Period,” said Rep. Travis Couture (R-Allyn).
Rep. Jim Walsh, a Republican from Aberdeen, said the bill was an “attack on parents’ rights and families.”
“Among its many flaws, the bill assumes families that don’t ‘affirm’ a child’s short-term desires are being abusive. Wrong! Sometimes love requires parents to not affirm their child’s whims. Loving parents guide their children as they grow. Sometimes that means saying ‘no,’” he said.
Democrats in Washington, like other blue states, have continued to push to enshrine into law access to sex change surgeries and abortion, as Republicans in other states have moved to ban the life-altering procedures for minors.