On December 6, 1907, a massive explosion decimated a coal mine in Monongah, West Virginia. Three hundred and sixty-two miners were killed, making this the worst mining disaster in U.S. history. The tragedy devastated the small town and led eventually to the establishment of the U.S. Bureau of Mines.
The Monongah mine disaster also marked another beginning. Several months after the explosion, a local church held a special service in honor of the 362 miners, most of whom had left behind wives and children. This is the first event on record in the United States set aside specifically to honor dads.
A bill currently on the desk of the governor of the state of Washington would, if he signs it, allow homeless shelters and youth homes to hide runaway youth from their parents, if those parents will not help them obtain gender-based medical interventions. The law would not require shelters or law enforcement to investigate if parents are abusive or neglectful, or if the young person is in danger. All that would be required is for young people to claim that their parents do not support their intent to take cross-sex hormones or obtain dangerous surgery.
This is the latest and most alarming example of an often-portrayed conflict between the rights of a child and the rights of parents.
A 2019 paper in World Psychiatry summarized that divorce and separation are associated with higher risk of academic difficulties, lower grades, higher school dropout rate, conduct and substance use problems, and depression. Children of divorced parents are also “more likely to engage in risky sexual behavior, live in poverty, and experience their own family instability.” They are also more likely to have mental health struggles and to be institutionalized for mental health struggles.
The bill, SB 5599, says youth shelters must notify the parents of a runaway child unless there are “compelling reasons” not to do so. Under current law, a compelling reason includes abuse or neglect. SB 5599 carves out another compelling reason: “receiving protected health care services,” including “gender affirming treatment” and “reproductive health care services.”