On April 4, Karena Phan of the Associated Press wrote an article attempting to debunk “social media distortion” of Assembly Bill 665, which was introduced as, “Minors: consent to mental health services.” This bill, authored by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo and state Sen. Scott Wiener, is making its way through the California Legislature.
Phan contends that hysterics on social media claim the bill “would allow school mental health professionals to remove minors [12 and older] from the custody of their parents or guardians who don’t consent to the child receiving gender-affirming surgeries,” and says this claim is false. However, Phan seems to have completely missed the horrifying loophole created by AB665, which would make it possible for children to leave their current family — with essentially zero notice to their parents, and zero allegations of abuse, neglect, incest, harm, or danger, as is currently required by California law.
First, Phan suggests — as do the bill’s authors — that AB665 does not change existing law and is simply aligning one existing law (Family Code section 6924) with another existing law (Health and Safety Code section 124260), as though they serve the same purpose. However, one need only place the two code sections side by side to recognize their significant differences.
The Family Code allows children 12 years old and older to receive mental health treatment and counseling and to opt themselves into a government “residential shelter” without notice to or consent from a parent or guardian if a “professional person” deems them mature enough to participate in the proposed course of treatments and the child is (a) the victim of child abuse or incest and/or (b) a danger to himself or others.
Conversely, the Health and Safety Code allows a child 12 years old and older to obtain only mental health services and counseling without notice to or consent from a parent/guardian if a “professional person” deems him mature enough. The Health and Safety Code does not mention “residential shelter services” at all.
Simply put: One code relates to outpatient mental health and residential shelter services in situations where the child is in danger. The other only relates to outpatient mental health services for run-of-the-mill counseling.
One difference that cannot be seen by reading the two code sections side by side is that kids who are enrolled in Medi-Cal — California’s state-provided insurance — are covered for outpatient and residential services under the Family Code, but not under the Health and Safety Code. This distinction means that, in order for a Medi-Cal child to receive residential shelter services paid for by his Medi-Cal plan, he must first be found to be in danger.
Phan either missed these glaring differences, didn’t read the code sections, turned a blind eye to them, or perhaps fell for the patently false rhetoric of the bill’s author, who testified that the purpose of AB665 was parity only.
Oddly, Phan also did not pick up on the fact that neither the words “Medi-Cal” nor “insurance” appear anywhere in the bill. This should have easily clued her into the real intent of AB665: to remove protections that have been in place for almost 50 years that ensure only those children in the most extreme and dangerous situations can leave home without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
In sum, AB665 proposes striking from the Family Code the four guardrails currently in place as criteria for a minor to leave his home, and would permit 12-year-olds to leave their families and go to a residential shelter without any notice to their parents and without claim — let alone proof — of harm (abuse, incest, danger). Even so, Phan denies this, saying the bill “contains no language that would allow school mental health professionals to remove children from the custody of their parents or guardians.”
She also makes the argument that a 12-year-old or older can “already” consent to move into a residential shelter without parental consent or a claim of abuse or danger. However, this is false. A plain reading of the Family and Health and Safety Code sections shows that the only time a minor between 12 and 17 years of age can “self-consent” into a residential shelter is when that minor is found by a professional person to be (1) mature enough and (2) in a dangerous situation. In the current text of AB665, however, these guardrails are physically crossed out.
Phan also contends that a child who wishes to seek “gender-affirming” surgery, but whose parents will not permit self-mutilations, will not be removed from his parents’ custody under the language of the bill. First, the language of the bill does not guarantee this. Second, a minor need only tell a “professional person” that he or she feels “unsafe” at home in order to self-consent into residential care. Since gender-confused children are constantly fed the trope that parents who do not accept their so-called gender identity will abandon them (or worse — harm them), some truly do feel in danger and may want to remove themselves from their parents’ home, custody, and care.
Since many of these children believe they only have two options — transition or suicide — children seeking surgeries without parental or guardian consent may ask to leave home and, once they do, (1) open up CPS investigations that place them in foster care or emancipation proceedings and/or (2) are designated as “runaways.” Both can result in the termination of parental rights.
Phan claims AB665 does not make any changes to the child welfare system, and she is correct, in theory. Yes, the bill does not expressly alter the details or procedures of the child welfare system. However, the bill in effect will allow children 12 years and older to place themselves into residential shelters, where they will expose themselves to CPS investigation and to being deemed a runaway, both of which can terminate parental rights, as explained above.
Phan contends AB665 does not allow for puberty blockers, wrong-sex hormones, or any invasive medical or surgical treatment without parental consent. However, she is, again, partially correct. While minors typically need parental consent for medical procedures now, parental consent is not required for minors who are placed in foster care or are deemed runaways, both of which are probable consequences under this bill.
Scenarios like this have already occurred, such as the case of Abigail Martinez, who was accused — then exonerated — of emotionally abusing her 16-year-old daughter due to refusing to affirm her daughter’s “gender identity.” After being removed from her loving home, Martinez’s daughter was placed on testosterone against her mother’s wishes rather than given therapy, and even though Martinez was ultimately exonerated, it was too late. Her daughter committed suicide after three years of so-called “life-saving” treatments.
Democrats have long been on a crusade to normalize the accessibility of “affirming families.” This includes “chosen families” — a euphemistic term used for LGBT families — and “glitter parents” — people wanting and willing to replace legal guardians who accept their children’s natural-sexed bodies and reject the myriad expansive gender identities.
Martinez’s story is doomed to be repeated if AB665 passes.
With another Weiner-sponsored bill moving toward passage — AB957, which redefines “health, safety, and welfare” to include sterilizing surgeries and the affirmation of children’s gender dysphoria — parents across California who have never been proven to be abusive will likely face expensive, time-consuming legal battles to get their child home. All the while, their child remains trapped in an underfunded, unsafe facility, getting pumped with “mental health services,” or worse.
What’s more, AB665 extends beyond trans-identified or gender-curious children. The bill applies to any child in the state, 12 years and up. It could include the child fighting with his mom to stay out past curfew, the girl fighting with her dad about her clothing or boyfriend, and all kids fighting with their parents about social media use, grades, or drinking. Under AB665, any child who is worried about facing another heated debate at home could consult with a “professional person” and opt into a residential shelter without notice to his or her parents, and without any accusation of abuse, neglect, or danger.
Giving young, already-struggling children the opportunity to leave their legal guardians even when real harm is not present makes them vulnerable. It separates them from the protection of home. A bill similar to AB665 was already passed in Oregon in March this year. The crusade will only continue — first in blue states and then in red states.
In sum, Phan’s seriously flawed “fact-check” is further proof that the press has been captured by the ideologues or is increasingly staffed with “journalists” who do not read the codes and bills upon which they report. Hopefully, next time she will reach out to someone opposing the bill who has a vested, life-saving interest in getting the analysis right so she can get a complete understanding of the issues involved.