bill under consideration in Washington state would allow licensed youth shelters to withhold information from parents about whether a child in their care is undergoing a gender transition, allowing the shelters to instead contact the state. 

The bill, titled “Supporting youth and young adults seeking protected health care services,” introduced by six Democrats, passed the state House last Wednesday. The bill would allow licensed overnight youth shelters housing a minor to inform only the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) and not a child’s parents if the child is “seeking or receiving protected health care services.” The bill defines protected services as including “evaluation and treatments for gender dysphoria, gender-affirming hormone therapy, and gender-affirming surgical procedures.”

“This legislation ensures that our trans youth have safe options and access to secure, stable shelter when they may not be welcome at home,” said sponsor state Sen. Marko Liias, D-Everett, in an April 13 press release. The bill now returns to the state Senate, where it must be voted on before going to the desk of Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee. 

Under current Washington state law, shelters must inform a minor’s parents that they are housing a child, unless there are “compelling reasons” not to do so, such as circumstances that indicate the child may be abused or neglected by their parents. In such a case, they must still inform the DCYF. 

The Washington State Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s Catholic bishops, noted that the bill, S.B. 5599, undermines the foundational relationship between parents and their children, and urged lawmakers to vote it down. 

“According to Catholic social teaching, the family is the most central social institution, and it must be supported and strengthened,” the Washington Catholic Conference wrote in an April 14 newsletter.  

“S.B. 5599 undermines families. In line with the bishops’ legislative priorities to protect children and families and respect life, the WSCC opposes S.B. 5599.”

Elective surgeries for minors in Washington will still require parental consent even if the legislation passes. 

Washington is one of several states moving to protect the ability of minors to access “gender-affirming” treatments, while other states such as Mississippi and Missouri are making moves to restrict the practice. 

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