Bill to safeguard youth seeking protected health services clears Senate
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 1, 2023
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OLYMPIA – Legislation to support youth seeking protected health care services in Washington passed the Senate on a 27 – 19 vote today.
Senate Bill 5599, sponsored by Sen. Marko Liias (D-Everett), removes barriers to shelter for at-risk and vulnerable youth.
Under current law, if a child who has run away from home goes to a licensed shelter, that shelter is required to notify the parents unless a compelling reason applies. The bill allows certified shelters to contact the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) in lieu of parents in certain additional instances, such as when a youth is seeking reproductive health services or gender-affirming care.
“This bill is an important step in ensuring young people across the state have a roof over their heads during an already challenging period in their life,” said Liias. “While we hope that every child has a supportive family that will provide them with acceptance and the care they need, it’s crucial that we provide housing options to those in crisis.”
Access to gender-affirming care has been proven to lower rates of adverse mental health outcomes, build self-esteem, and improve the overall quality of life for transgender and gender diverse youth. The National Library of Medicine states that sexual and reproductive health services address the needs of young people while preventing adverse mental health outcomes.
The legislation would ensure that children who may not have supportive families at home do not end up on the street, but instead have shelter when seeking these protected health services.
“This bill is such an important step towards protecting our at-risk youth in Washington,” said Danni Askini, Executive Director of Gender Justice League. “It takes immense courage and bravery for trans youth to come out to their family and ask for support. All young people in Washington State should have the right to be safe, true to themselves, and to live free of violence. This bill helps us ensure the safety and opportunity of some of the most vulnerable young people we work with.”
The bill now moves to the House for consideration.