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OC Education Board Opposes State Bill Allowing Minors to Get Counseling, Join Group Homes Without Parental Consent

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The Orange County Board of Education took a stance July 5 against a California bill that would allow children as young as 12 to get mental health counseling and place themselves in a group home without parental consent.

State Assembly Bill 665, introduced by State Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Assemblywoman Wendy Carillo (D-Los Angeles), has passed in the state Assembly and is currently being heard in the state Senate.

The issue was for discussion only—meaning no vote was taken.

Board members additionally said they are working with state lobbyists to advocate against the bill, which they say strips parents of their rights.

Trustee Ken Williams said during the board meeting that he thought the bill was “very broad and unclear with significant consequences upon our communities and families.”

“[The bill] is not about obtaining medical coverage or aligning healthcare costs … it’s about children that are being taken from their parents,” he said. “If it was simply about providing mental health care—which our youth already have, and which we all are in favor of—it could have happened in a different way. Instead, what this law does, it really breaks down the relationship between parents and their children.”

Epoch Times Photo
“In God We Trust” hangs in the meeting area of the Orange County Board of Education in Costa Mesa, Calif., on Oct. 7, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Trustees Mari Barke and Lisa Sparks agreed, saying they thought the possible law gave 12-year-olds more responsibility than they are capable of at that age.

Sparks noted that medical literature indicates that the prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain responsible for making decisions—is not fully developed until the age of 25 or 26.

Additionally, several parents and community members spoke against the bill during the meeting.

“These are our children. They do not belong to the schools, and they do not belong to the state,” one community member said. “Children have advocates, and those advocates are the best advocates that they could possibly have. That’s their parents.”

Another speaker told the board that the bill is especially hurtful to minority communities that hold strong faith and cultural beliefs.

“A lot of people in the Hispanic community do not agree with gender affirmation,” she said. “So what’s going to happen when you have a family [refuse to use a child’s preferred pronouns] and that child goes to the school and says ‘I don’t want to go home because of this’? They will remove that child from their home.”

One teacher additionally called on parents to become more active in their children’s schools.

“[What] we really need is for parents to wake up … and go back to being strong parents not being afraid to parent, then we wouldn’t have so many of the issues that we have at the schools,” the teacher said. “I hope that parents will wake up and join forces with … the teachers that … really do care about kids, and that we can let go of all the nonsense and welcome-in reason.”

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