Mental Health Bill Is ‘State-Sanctioned Kidnapping,’ Parental Rights Advocates Say

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
April 6, 2023California

A California bill that would allow school mental health counselors to send children as young as 12 years old to residential mental health facilities without parental consent has outraged parental rights advocates.

Erin Friday, an attorney and western U.S. regional co-leader for Our Duty, a parental rights group that opposes transgender ideology, told the Assembly judiciary committee on March 28 that the proposed legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 665, would violate parental rights under federal and state constitutional law.

“This bill is state-sanctioned kidnapping,” she told legislators at the Assembly Judiciary Committee on March 28.

The legislation, authored by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-L.A.), would remove guardrails in current law that states a minor must be deemed in “danger of serious physical or mental harm to themselves or to others” or “an alleged victim of incest child abuse,” before they are allowed to consent to mental health treatment or counseling on an outpatient basis or at a residential shelter without the permission of their parents.

Wendy Carrillo
California Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo (D-Los Angeles) speaks at a hearing with the Assembly Judiciary Committee in Sacramento on March 28, 2023. (Screenshot via California State Assembly)

The committee voted 7–2 in favor of moving the proposal further along in the legislative process. Assemblyman Bill Essayli (R-Corona) and Kate Sanchez (R-Murrieta) voted against the bill.

Rachel Velcoff Hults, an attorney and director of mental health at the National Center for Youth Law and co-sponsor of the bill, told the committee that AB 665 addresses “a deeply inequitable policy” that creates “added barriers for youth on MediCal to access mental health counseling.”

“Removing this barrier is more important than ever, given the mental health crisis that our youth are facing right now—particularly those youth of color with the fewest resources who rely on MediCal,” she said.

Hults said increasing youth suicide rates, especially among girls, students of color, and LGBT students make it “even more important to open every door to care.”

Fiona Liu, a high school student in Orange County, testified in support of the bill, contending that current requirements, “such as having to present serious danger to ourselves or to others,” are an obstacle youth from low-income families who are on MediCal face when in need of mental health care.

“As a young person from a more traditional family, I can attest to the mental health stigma that causes youth like me to be afraid to talk to our own parents about our mental health struggles,” she said.

Pamela Garfield-Jaeger, a licensed clinical social worker, opposed the bill, telling the committee that school counselors are being trained “to keep secrets from parents” and take on an “anti-therapeutic activist” role instead of working more closely with families.

“Counselors are now dividing families, deliberately turning children against loving parents,” she said. “Separating children from parents is one of the most traumatic things you can do to a child and should only be done as a last resort. The job of a therapist is to repair the family unit—not destroy it.”

Jaegar said AB 665 would allow the removal of “trans-identified” children from the home.

“In this dystopian nightmare we’re living in, if a parent doesn’t use a child’s chosen pronouns or name, they’re labeled ‘dangerous.’ This is absurd and all based on statistics—this statistical lie about suicide. Completed suicides for trans identified children are similar to kids with autism, depression, and other serious mental health issues,” she said.

In her 20 years of experience working with families, Jaeger said she has learned that conducting therapy without parental input is mostly ineffective.

“It does not work,” she said. “Counselors are mandated to report genuine neglect and abuse, but this bill will remove this needed threshold requirement and cause more havoc on families.”

Jaeger also warned that youth residential facilities are usually unlocked, claiming “many kids run away into the hands of sex traffickers.”

People gather to share about detransitioning in front of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento, Calif., on March 10, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
NTD Photo
Detransitioners and their supporters hold a rally on the steps of the California State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., on March 10, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Friday, a Democrat, told The Epoch Times the bill wouldn’t simply align two sections of code in the law as Democratic lawmakers have been saying, but would allow children as young as 12 to go to residential mental health care facilities without any accusation of abuse, or risk of harm to themselves or others.

“This is smoke and mirrors,” she said. “They’re hiding the true intent of it … under the shadow of equity [and] inclusion.”

Friday is concerned about the impact the proposed legislation could have on gender-confused youth and their families, if residential shelters encourage minors to seek “gender-affirming care” without parental involvement or oversight.

If a child goes to a school counselor and says he or she is transgender and claims their parents won’t support their new gender identity such as not using the child’s preferred pronouns, for example, the child could be sent for an overnight stay in a residential LGBT community care facility without their parents knowing, she said.

How long a child could be separated from their family is not addressed in the bill, she said.

Erin Friday
Erin Friday checks her notes on the steps of the California State Capital in Sacramento, Calif., on March 10, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Friday, whose daughter once identified as “trans” but later changed her mind, stressed that AB 665 and other legislation passed by supportive Democratic lawmakers are destroying families, and warned that if the bill is passed in California, it could serve as a model for youth mental health services in other states or nationally.

The bill is “terrifying” to many parents of gender-confused children who fear their children be sent to LGBT community care facilities that push gender ideology and “gender-affirming care”’ where their children could be further indoctrinated, she said.

From The Epoch Times

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