A Senate sub-committee today voted to recommend to the full committee that it kill a major parental authority bill. The bill, HB 121, patroned by Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R-31, Woodbridge), would require the notification of parents whose minor children seek mental health services from a public agency, received a negative 3-2 vote in the Senate Education and Health Sub-committee on Health Care.However, the bill is still alive because Senate sub-committees can only recommend action to their full committees, not kill or pass bills. It will go before the full Senate Education and Health Committee this Thursday morning.
Voting to recommend to “pass by indefinitely” (a parliamentary term that effectively kills a bill) were Senators Mary Margaret Whipple (D-31, Arlington) and sub-committee chairman; George Barker (D-39, Alexandria) and Ralph Northam (D-6, Norfolk). Voting against the motion were Senators Steve Newman (R-23, Lynchburg) and Steve Martin (R-11, Chesterfield), who were not there, but under Senate rules were allowed to vote by proxy.
The tenor of the meeting was completely different from the reception this bill received in the House, where it got 88 votes, with a cross-section of liberals, conservatives, urban and rural members, men, women and black and white, all of whom saw the need for the state’s policy to not interfere with parental authority in matters concerning their children’s health. In the House, delegates were cognizant of the role parents must play in the healing process of their children, especially in an age of high school and college campus killings, teenage suicide and other destructive behavior. The Senate Democrats, however, unlike their House colleagues, vilified parents, siding with the mental health bureaucrats who put the state over family. Not to mention the fact that the bill has a clause allowing a counselor to waive notification if the parents, in his or her best professional judgment, are a risk to abuse the child.
The sub-committee heard a well reasoned explanation of the bill from Delegate Lingamfelter, and compelling testimony from a private sector counseling professional and two ministers with experience in child and family counseling, one of whom had to cut down a teenager after she hung herself because she was suffering from depression while her parents were unaware of her treatment. The professional counselor plainly, and with great commonsense, told the senators parents must be notified for a child’s physical health treatment. A child’s mental health treatment is no less important, as it can result in great harm to the child and to others.
The Community Services Board even admitted its best practices include notifying parents, but still made the case that parents are the bad guys, citing the potential abusive reaction by parents, as if those sad cases are the norm. This, despite studies from the University of Minnesota and the University of Maryland that prove parental involvement is necessary for a child’s success in life, as well as the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s listing of parental involvement in its “prevention principles.” More outrageously, the sub-committee ignored that Virginia law requires parental consent for a minor to get a tattoo, a piercing, go to a tanning salon or get a job! But there’s nothing like generalizing when trying to demonize. What went unstated are the untold thousands of success stories from when loving, caring parents get involved in their children’s lives and are part of the healing process.
The CSB tried to say that abusive parents are the worst case scenario. No, the worst case scenario is that midnight call saying your child has committed suicide or caused harm to others.