Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

QLaw, Oasis Youth Center join lawsuit to protect LGBTQ+ students

Share this Post:
Kevin Wurm / Reuters
Kevin Wurm / Reuters

On behalf of 10 plaintiffs, the ACLU of Washington, Legal Voice, and QLaw filed a lawsuit against the State of Washington challenging I-2081, called a "Parents' Bill of Rights," on Thursday, May 23. The goal of the lawsuit is for the court to issue a permanent injunction, preventing I-2081 from becoming effective on June 6.

I-2081 would grant parents a total of 15 rights, including but not limited to examining textbooks and curricula, access to their child's medical and mental health records, notification of when the child is offered medical care, and the option to receive notice and opt out of assignments related to sexual activity, family beliefs, morality, or political affiliations. One of the concerns outlined in the lawsuit includes the deterioration of privacy for LGBTQ+ youth who do not live with affirming families.

Among the plaintiffs is the nonprofit Oasis Youth Center in Tacoma, which provides drop-in services for LGBTQ+ youth. The lawsuit says schools help connect students to Oasis through referrals.

"For many youth that Oasis works with, the school environment is one of the only places — other than Oasis — where they encounter adults who affirm their LGBTQ+ identity, offer access to mental health support, or refer them to other needed serves," the lawsuit reads.

Denise Diskin, attorney for QLaw Foundation, shared a similar concern in a press release.

"Initiative 2081 is a forced outing law that will harm LGBTQ+ students if implemented in our schools. LGBTQ+ students seek out, safe, and trusted school staff when they don't have a supportive home, and the affirmation they receive can be lifesaving. I-2081 undercuts this and other vital resources at a time when youth need support the most."

The lawsuit's primary argument, however, is that I-2081 violates the Washington State Constitution. It specifically points to Article II, Section 37, which requires full-length identification of laws being changed by new legislation. In other words, the plaintiffs allege that I-2081 did not include language disclosing modification of existing laws.

One of those cited is RCW 70.02.130, which keeps healthcare providers from disclosing health information without consent from the minor. The lawsuit says I-2081 would contradict the law by giving parents access to student medical records. Other laws the lawsuit specifically points to regard parental notification at youth shelters and opt-out notices for coursework. The lawsuit notes, however, that "in order to determine all of the laws impacted, a thorough search of existing laws is required to fully understand the Initiative's effects."

Adrien Leavitt, staff attorney for the ACLU of Washington, said in a press release that I-2081 has only caused confusion.

"Article II, Section 37 of the Washington Constitution is designed to ensure [that] a proposed law's full intent and impact on current law is clear, but I-2081 has only caused confusion. The initiative passed because of deception and confusion, and it will cause life-altering negative outcomes for queer and trans students if it is implemented."