Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Washington parental rights law criticized as a ‘forced outing’ measure is allowed to take effect

By 37ci3 Jun6,2024



SEATTLE – New parental rights law in Washington state derided by critics “forced visit” event It will be allowed to take effect this week after a judicial commissioner on Tuesday declined to issue an emergency order temporarily blocking it.

Civil liberties groups, the school district, youth services organizations and others challenging the law have not shown the imminent harm necessary to warrant blocking it until a trial judge hears the case, King County Superior Court Commissioner Mark Hillman said. The hearing before the judge is scheduled for June 21.

The law, known as Initiative 2081, emphasizes and in some cases expands rights already granted to parents under state and federal law. It requires schools to notify parents in advance of medical services offered to their child and school-arranged medical treatment, except in emergencies that result in observation beyond normal hours. It gives parents the right to review their child’s medical and counseling records and expands the circumstances in which parents can opt their child out of sex education.

Critics say the measure could harm students who come to school clinics seeking birth control, seeking reproductive services, counseling about their gender identity or sexual orientation, or seeking treatment or support for sexual assault or domestic violence. In many such cases, students do not want their parents to know, they say.

The American Civil Liberties Union in Washington and other groups opposed to the measure say it violates the state Constitution, which requires new laws not to revise or repeal old laws without expressly saying so.

For example, state law mandates the confidentiality of medical records of young people who are authorized to receive care, including abortion, without parental consent. The law, the plaintiffs said, would give parents the ability to be notified and review school medical records before taking care of their child, but it does not specifically say that it amends the existing privacy law.

The initiative was backed by conservative megadonor Brian Heywood, who said the measure was not intended to give parents veto power over their children’s decisions to receive counseling or medical treatment. “It just says they have a right to know,” he said.

The Democratic-led Legislature overwhelmingly approved it in March, with progressive lawmakers wanting to keep it off the fall ballot and counting on the courts likely to block it.

Hillman said during the hearing that he sympathized with the concerns of groups protesting the measure, but that the damages they claimed were only speculative.

State’s Attorney William McGinty argued that the law was constitutional and that the plaintiffs had not demonstrated that they were entitled to a temporary restraining order.

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