Lawmakers in three states are working to strip parents of their right to consent or even be informed of their minor children’s medical care by not requiring state-licensed shelters or homeless youth programs to report runaway youth to parents if they are seeking harmful puberty blockers, hormones, or surgical mutilations.
Bill SB 5599 in Washington State, which only needs the governor’s signature to become law, proposes that host shelters can house children who are seeking irreversible and damaging gender-related medical interventions without their parents’ knowledge or permission.
For minors, the bill cites Washington State law defining “gender-affirming care” as virtually anything “prescribed by a doctor to treat dysphoria.”
Rather than contacting parents, the bill requires shelters to notify the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families instead.
Another “compelling reason” listed by Washington State lawmakers to keep parents unaware of their children’s whereabouts while they get life-altering medical care, were due to potential “circumstances that indicate notifying the parent or legal guardian will subject the minor to abuse or neglect.”
In a summary report of the bill, the opponents of the law pointed to the bill itself as “child abuse,” and equated it to “legalized kidnapping.”
The summary stated, “There is no mention about parents or parental involvement but rather an emotional response to helping children. Minors cannot consent to these kinds of medical procedures… This should be considered child abuse. A parent’s job is to protect their child, this bill strips parents of that ability. Gender is in your imagination. This bill legalizes the kidnapping of children, allows for the harboring of minors, and segregates us from the union.”
Other states including Oregon and California also have pending legislation to restrict parent’s rights and not require parental notification when their child enters a shelter or group home. Oregon’s HB 2002, which is currently working its way through the state legislature, intends to allow minors as young as 15 years old to consent to “gender affirming” medical interventions without the consent of the minor’s parent of guardian. As the bill states, a minor could undergo, without parental consent, any “…procedure, service, drug, device or product that a physical or behavioral health care provider prescribes to treat an individual for incongruence between the individual’s gender identity and the individual’s sex assignment at birth….”
In California, AB 665 would allow school counselors to send children as young as 12 years old to state-funded group homes without the knowledge or consent of a parent if there is suspicion the parents don’t support the child’s gender identity. The bill gives school counselors and government bureaucrats the power to separate children from their parents and then keep the parents uninformed and out of any decision-making process regarding the child.
The bill justifies removing parents from the equation stating, “Over one-half of surveyed LGBTQ+ youth reported that not being able to get permission from their parents or guardians was sometimes or always a barrier to accessing mental health services.”
These bills are yet another attempt to divorce parents from children. They prioritize confused feelings of those children over parental rights and do not take into account there are times where a parent’s views will not necessarily align with their child’s emotional state. They also do not address that not all mental health services are created equal. For example, many parents object to the false claim that men and women can change their gender, and therefore, do not want their children to go to a counselor who is going to perpetuate their child’s confusion and encourage changing their pronouns or recommend mutilating surgeries.
Liberty Counsel represents licensed therapists who provide life-saving counseling to minors who desperately desire to conform their attractions, behaviors, and gender identities to their sincerely held religious beliefs. In Otto v. City of Boca Raton, FL, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a city and county ordinance that banned counselors from providing minor clients with help to reduce or eliminate unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or gender confusion. The appeals court found that the laws were both content and viewpoint based and violate the First Amendment right to free speech.
In Vazzo v. City of Tampa, Liberty Counsel represents marriage and family therapist Robert Vazzo and his minor clients, as well as the Christian ministry, New Hearts Outreach Tampa Bay. On February 2, 2023, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Tampa ordinance that prohibited licensed counselors from providing voluntary talk therapy to minors seeking help to reduce or eliminate their unwanted same-sex attractions, behaviors, or identity was unconstitutional under the First Amendment.
Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said, “These state legislatures are attempting to legalize child abuse by stripping parents of informed consent – a fundamental right. If enacted, these ‘laws’ will virtually escort young children on a reprehensible path to damaging, and perhaps irreversible, biological and medical consequences. States need to empower parents to protect their children, not inhibit them.”