Bill would protect runaway youth seeking gender-affirming care
If a teenager runs away from home and ends up in a shelter, are shelter staff required to inform parents? In Washington state, the answer is yes.
But a bill now before the state Legislature would make a few exceptions to this rule, including if the child has run away to seek gender-affirming care.
State Sen. Marko Liias (D-Everett) is one sponsor of SB 5599, which is currently working its way through the Senate Committee on Human Services. He says the measure would allow transgender kids who are not being supported at home to find safe accommodation.
“We know when people don’t have access to gender affirming care it leads to life-long challenges in terms of mental health," Liias said.
The bill has prompted considerable pushback as it is being discussed in Olympia this session. More than 4,500 people weighed in on the matter online, mostly in opposition, including parent Eric Pratt.
“I can imagine children running from another state to Washington with this idea that they are going to be cared for outside the parental guidance that is necessary for their own health care," Pratt argued.
Under the bill, parents would not be required to be informed of their runaway kids’ whereabouts if there is a "compelling reason." That includes the possibility of abuse, or if the minor is seeking "protected health services" including reproductive services or gender affirming care.