Democrats in the California Senate are backing a controversial bill that would grant children as young as 12 the ability to seek therapy and admission to state-run housing facilities without parental notification.
NO WAY!! California Democrats want therapists to be able to counsel 12-year-olds on gender identity and sign off on their admission to shelters without parental consent — even if there's no abuse at home https://t.co/kAIJvDMJsq
— deborah green (@NewaiGreen) June 24, 2023
The proposed legislation, Assembly Bill 655, has stirred up debate about the role of parents in their children’s lives and the potential consequences of granting such autonomy to minors.
Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-CA) introduced AB655 in February, and this week it gained approval from Democrats on the state Senate Judiciary Committee. It already passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee in April.
The bill not only enables minors to receive counseling on gender identity from school psychologists, therapists, and uncredentialed trainees without parental consent but also removes the requirement for minors to be in danger of abuse or self-harm in order to provide such consent.
According to the law, children from 12 to 17 years are allowed to “consent to mental health treatment or counseling on an outpatient basis, or to residential shelter services, if the minor is mature enough to participate intelligently in the outpatient services or residential shelter services, as specified, and either the minor would present a danger of serious physical or mental harm to themselves or to others or if the minor is the alleged victim of incest or child abuse.”
Critics argue that AB655 creates a concerning loophole in the existing law, potentially allowing children to leave their families without any allegations of abuse, neglect, or harm as currently required by the state law. This, many fear, is tantamount to child emancipation, stripping parents of their fundamental role in their children’s lives.
While proponents claim that it simply amends the state’s Family Code to give minors more access to receive mental health counseling, opponents argue that the law undermines the role of parents in making informed decisions about their child’s welfare, especially on critical issues such as gender identity.
The legislation expands the definition of “professional person” to include a wide range of individuals, potentially leaving the supposed therapy to junior pseudo-professionals.
Carrillo has defended the bill, stating that it provides an option for minors in challenging home situations to seek shelter at a safe place, rather than resorting to living on the streets or staying with individuals who may not have their best interests at heart.
Supporting the Assembly member on the bill is Sen. Scott Wiener (D-CA), who has faced criticism in the past for his stance on related issues, including his labeling of the term “groomer” as an “anti-LGBTQ hate word.”
Wiener also supported a law that made California a sanctuary state for child gender-change procedures and another that equals parents’ refusal to affirm their child’s gender dysphoria to abuse.