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Dear Friends and Neighbors,

We had a busy week in the House Human Services, Youth, and Early Learning Committee discussing one of the most controversial measures of the session: Senate Bill 5599.  

The bill would allow youth shelters, and other similar organizations, to not to notify a parent if his or her child enters their facility seeking or receiving “gender affirming” treatment or reproductive health care services.

It passed out of committee this morning along a party line vote and now heads to the House Rules Committee, which schedules bills for the House floor.


Under current law, minors can already receive these services without parental knowledge or permission. This bill strictly deals with the duty of youth shelters to notify parents on the whereabouts of their children.   

Today, if a runaway youth enters a youth shelter without parental permission, the shelter is required to report the location of the child, unless there’s a compelling reason not to. In that case, the shelter must notify the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).

“Compelling reasons” include, but are not limited to, circumstances that indicate that notifying a parent or legal guardian will subject a minor to abuse or neglect. This bill would add gender affirming treatment and reproductive health care services as compelling reasons not to notify a parent.

Why I oppose this bill

Fundamentally, I believe parental rights matter. They matter under the U.S. Constitution, and they matter to me on a deeply personal level. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled multiple times that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment secures parental rights that would be eliminated under this bill. Moms and dads who are providing a safe home have the right to know where their kids are.

I also support the goal of this bill: reducing suicide rates for transgender youths. But we won’t achieve that by erecting barriers between families. Rather, we should keep families together and help them work through these difficult issues. The bond between parent and child is a sacred one, and parents should be able to be there for their kids when they’re at their most vulnerable.   

Our attempts to fix this bill

Republicans on the committee proposed five amendments to fix various problems with the bill. All five amendments were rejected by the majority party.

My final amendment would have required youth shelters to notify DCYF, so the department could connect kids with their families with appropriate counseling services. At least one member of the majority party said she’s open to working with me on this amendment for the floor, which would drastically improve the bill and likely address the constitutional problems.

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Thank you!

Please contact my office with your questions, concerns, comments, or suggestions. I am here to listen and serve you. 

It’s an honor to serve you!


Travis Couture

State Representative Travis Couture, 35th Legislative District
404 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7902 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000