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Court hears legal challenge to new WA Parents Bill of Rights

(The Center Square) — A King County Superior Court judge will hear arguments next week in a lawsuit over new parents’ rights passed by lawmakers from citizen initiative I-2081.

The new law, among other things, gives parents access to instructional materials and notifications when a student seeks counseling or medical care for issues related to sex or gender confusion.

But the ACLU and other groups argue the law violates the state and federal constitutions and upholds young people’s privacy rights and inclusion protections.

The complaint filed in late May states, in part: “Certain provisions of Initiative 2081 undermine current privacy protections for youth, may disrupt or discourage trusted conversations that school-based health care providers and educators have with students, prevent students from seeking help, and in large measure degree frustrate a school’s ability to cover a wide range of topics in the curriculum.”

This week, Silent Majority Foundation (SMF) filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit. The Washington attorney general’s office will defend the new law, but Pete Serrano, general counsel for the Silent Majority Foundation, says they want to make sure the measure is vigorously defended.

“The purpose of the intervention is to ensure that I-2081 is adequately defended, thereby upholding the voice of the people of Washington State,” Serrano said. “While the Attorney General’s Office is currently defending the action, SMF will stand with Let’s Go Washington and other individuals and organizations that have spent significant resources to pass the Parents Bill of Rights.”

Serrano, who is running for attorney general of Washington, tells The Center Square, “We want to ensure that all salient arguments are made on behalf of Washington state parents and their children.”

Asked whether he believes the arguments of the ACLU and the others filing the lawsuit have a valid legal argument, Serrano said: “They argue that the legislation is unconstitutional because it is not clear on its face , but I don’t believe that is the case. the case.”

“An initiative of the people, for the people, of the people was passed and passed last session,” Serrano said. “We will try to defend all laws implemented by the initiative.”

Chris Reykdal of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction last week encouraged Washington’s 295 school districts to ignore the new law.

A press release from OSPI said in part: Some of this (student) data contains personal information and is protected under the Federal Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and as such cannot be made public made without the student’s permission.”

Serrano says he believes Reykdal’s personal opposition to 2081 is getting in the way.

“It looks like Reykdal is using the sword and shield of HIPAA and FERPA to find out,” Serrano said. “It’s like during COVID 19 when he told school districts if they didn’t comply with what he said, he would pull their funding. He takes the same position here.”

While this plays out in court, school districts will soon have to make decisions about the curriculum affected by the new law for the 2024-2025 school year.

“While he said you don’t have to comply, he’s not saying you can’t comply,” Serrano said. “Those districts can comply with the new law, and they should do so.”

The request to intervene will be heard June 21 in King County Superior Court.

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