H.89 and S.37 gender-affirming “Shield Bills” target minors, college students
Under bills passed by both the House and the Senate, children of any age can access transgender services without parental permission, the Vermont Family Alliance has confirmed by reviewing legislative testimony (see below).
Both House Judiciary Chair Rep. Martin LaLonde (D-South Burlington) and Senate Health & Welfare Chair Sen. Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden) also have made it clear that H.89 and S.37, two compatible “companion” bills that shield gender-affirming care practitioners and persons that assist others in procuring gender-affirming services from both civil and criminal litigation, prohibit increases in malpractice insurance, and allow insurance companies to provide full-coverage medical insurance for gender-affirming services, prioritize the facilitation and protection of gender-affirming services for minors and young adults.
Chairperson LaLonde provided context for H.89 to the House Judiciary Committee prior to legislative counsel’s walkthrough. He cited other states, such as Alabama, that are limiting or banning gender-affirming services for minors and youth, and the Joint Resolution (J.R.S. 53) passed last year that condemned the actions of these states. He stated, “We’re further committed to exploring all available options to ensure that transgender youth and their families are safe in Vermont to make the best medical care decisions for themselves in consultation with their health care providers . . . H.89 would create a so-called ‘shield law’ to protect Vermont doctors, nurses, and others for providing reproductive or gender-affirming health care that is legal here in Vermont.”
During legislative counsel’s walkthrough of S.37 in the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, Chairperson Lyons commented in regard to Section 9, “. . . when we talk about gender-affirming health care services – we’re talking about a fairly young population, so adolescent population – ‘it could be any age,’ legislative counsel interjected – it can be any age . . . right now, the waitlist, for example, is pretty high in the adolescent group, so yeah, it’s important to have some counseling or support services or something available.”
While legislators claim S.37 and H.89 provide protections against litigation from other states, Lyon’s comments are relevant to Vermonters in that Section 9 of S.37 compels the Department of Health and the Green Mountain Care Board to consult with “relevant stakeholders,” identify areas where gender-affirming health services, abortion, and birth care are not available within a 50-mile radius within Vermont and make recommendations to facilitate access to these services in areas that are underserved.
Both in-state and out-of-state college students, of legal age of consent and out from under the guiding protection of their parents or guardians, will have facilitated access to gender-affirming care under Section 12, which requires the University of Vermont and colleges in the Vermont State College system, such as Northern Vermont University, to provide “readiness plans” for gender-affirming and reproductive health services.
Section 11 of S.37 allows licensed retail and institutional drug outlets to install over-the-counter contraception and emergency contraception vending, possibly making these drugs and pregnancy prevention products accessible to minors without parental knowledge or consent.
Senator Randy Brock, Franklin, posed a series of questions about parental involvement in their minor child’s gender dysphoria treatment after Senator Lyons’ provided the second reading of S.37 on the Senate floor Thursday, March 16, culminating in Brock asking Lyons @55:20 whether there is any requirement that parents be involved in their minor child’s psychological care regarding the minor child’s gender dysphoria. Lyon’s responded, “. . . whether it’s a medical counselor or M.S.W. (Master’s in Social Work), or whomever it is, the practice in this area is to reach out to families.” Under 18 V.S.A. § 8350, a minor may consent to legally authorized outpatient psychotherapy and counseling treatment without parental consent.
Legislators serving on both the House and Senate Committees insist H.89 and S.37 do not affect parent’s rights to “participate” in their children’s health care, yet only gender-affirming care is legally protected under both bills, to the exclusion of all other types of care, such as extended exploratory psychological care. In combination with provisions in H.89 and S.37 that facilitate and protect exclusively gender-affirming services, parent’s rights to direct, and not merely participate, in their children’s and young adult’s health care, are severely undermined and by default, usurped.
H.89 has passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. S.37 passed in the Senate for a third reading. – Sourced from Vermont Family Alliance