New Law Will Allow Children To Run Away From Parents More Easily

( The Washington state House is poised to vote on a state Senate bill that would permit youth homeless shelters to avoid notifying the parents of runaways if they are seeking an abortion or transgender treatment, the Washington Examiner reported.

The Washington state Senate passed the legislation on March 1, in a 27 to 19 vote. The Human Services, Youth, & Early Learning Committee of the state House cleared the legislation last Friday and referred it to the House Rules Committee.

The bill’s sponsor, Democrat state Senator Marko Liias, argued that a “significant portion” of Washington state’s homeless youth “identify” as LGBT, and for them, their homes are not “safe” and “welcoming” places. He claimed that LGBT youths either run away from home or are thrown out by their parents.

Under current state law, homeless shelters must report runaways to their parents within 72 hours unless there is a compelling reason not to, including if contact parents put the minor at risk of abuse. In such cases, shelter staff must instead notify the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).

The new legislation removes the 72-hour requirement to notify parents if the minor is seeking an abortion or “transgender” treatment. Shelter staff would still have to report those children to DCYF under the new bill.

Senator Liias insists that the bill does not say that the parents of a runaway are never to be contacted. Instead, the bill only removes the 72-hour requirement to contact the parents. Liias explained that since the new legislation still requires shelter staff to contact DCYF, it would be the responsibility of DCYF to contact the runaway’s parents and find safe ways to reunify them with their child when possible.

Republican in the Washington state Senate opposed the legislation, arguing that it gives shelters a justification to hide the whereabouts of children from their parents while allowing children to undergo transgender procedures without parental notification or approval.