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New Washington State Law Allows Homeless Shelters Not to Inform Parents of Some Teen Runaways

The state of Washington has enacted a law directing homeless shelters to notify the state, and not the parents, when taking in some runaway youths.

If a runaway youth claims to be transgender or is seeking gender-affirming treatment, the parents need not be notified, The Spokesman-Review reports. The law requires the shelters notify the state’s Department of Child, Youth and Family Services.

Under previous law, parents were usually notified if a runaway youth stayed at a shelter for more than three days. With the new law, parents may never learn that their lost child has been found.

Supporters of the law claim it will protect youth seeking gender affirming care and medical services. Mental health services can be provided, and conflict-resolution support could be offered to attempt to bring the child and parents back together, proponents of the law say.

Critics say the law puts the state between a minor and his or her parents. The law allows the state to turn children over to people who support the gender affirming industry, critics note.

The Washington Senate approved the bill in March on a vote of 27-19, and the House approved it in April with a vote of 57-39, The Epoch Times reports. Gov. Jay Inslee signed it into law on May 9.

Democrats control both houses and the governor’s office. Senate Bill 5599 was opposed by every Republican lawmaker.

“So to be blunt, if your child is experiencing sexual confusion, Washington state will facilitate your son’s castration or daughter’s breast removal before the youth outgrows the likely temporary phase—which, studies show, will happen naturally with 80 to 90-plus percent of kids experiencing Sexual Identity Disorder (SID, which the activists call ‘gender dysphoria’)” columnist Selwyn Duke wrote after Inslee signed the bill into law.

In a video statement posted to Twitter after the vote, House Republicans Chris Corey and Peter Abbarno say the new law will erode parental rights in the state.

“This is obviously a fundamental violation of parental rights and something that is deeply concerning for parents across Washington state,” Corey said.

“A lot of state legislators who are parents spoke on the House floor about their love for their children and how concerning it would be if a child disappeared for months, the state knew where they were, and then [the parents] were never notified where that child was,” Abbarno said. “And I think that was the crux of much of the debate of should we try to strengthen families, let families built together, or should we continue to let the state essentially hide where the child is.”

There is a deep philosophical divide between Democrats and Republicans in the state on this and other issues, the lawmakers said.

“There were a lot of wedge issues throughout this legislative session,” Abbarno said. “It’s almost apropos that it culminates with one of the biggest wedges that we have seen which is the wedge between who parents your child. Is it the parents or the state and the government? You saw a really stark contrast where the Republican caucus was on the side of the parents and the Democrat caucus was on the side of government.”

Demonstrators on both sides of the issue gathered in Olympia before Inslee’s signing of the bill, KOMO reported.

Julie Barrett, organizer of the protest against the bill, told KOMO the new law is an attack on parents.

“My message about this bill is it really is an assault on parental rights. It is an assault on children,” Barrett said.

“Parents won’t be notified with this bill,” Barrett said. “That’s a really scary thing for loving parents.”

Jerrod Sessler, a 2022 Republican primary congressional candidate, says residents have no choice but to speak out on the issue.

“What is the alternative to not being here?” Sessler told KOMO. “The alternative is doing nothing. It’s time for Washington State to stand up.”

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Eileen Griffin
Eileen Griffin
Eileen Griffin writes from Richland, Washington.


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