Graham proposes ‘Parental Bill of Rights’ in Olympia

'It's time for the state to officially recognize the rights of parents,' says Graham

Rep. Jenny Graham, R-Spokane, proposed legislation in the Washington State House of Representatives today that lists a specific set of rights that parents should have as they relate to the care, well-being, education, and upbringing of their children.

Calling it the “Parental Bill of Rights,” Graham says her legislation is needed to help parents take back their intended role as guardians, protectors, and raisers of children.

“A parent's role since the beginning of time has been to rear their children based on their cultural beliefs and values. They are the paramount role model within a child's life,” said Graham. “However, the Legislature has continued to encroach upon ground that has traditionally belonged to parents when it comes to a child's security, health, mental stability, upbringing, and beliefs. It's time to draw a line in the sand and say, 'No more!' It's time for the state to officially recognize the rights of parents.”

Graham's proposal, House Bill 1601, has a powerful intent section that reads, in part:

“The legislature recognizes the crucial role parents play in Washington state and in society as a whole. The legislature finds that parents are the primary stakeholders in their child's upbringing. As such, the legislature intends to make clear the rights parents have in this state to raise and educate their children in accordance with their own values and beliefs. The legislature further finds that creating transparency regarding these rights provides a necessary reminder for parents and the state of their different roles in the lives of children and that the more information parents have, the better decisions they can make concerning the care and upbringing of their children.”

Some of the rights listed in her bill include:

  • The right to direct the education and care.
  • The right to direct the upbringing and the moral or religious training.
  • The right to access and review all education records.
  • The right to make health care decisions, unless otherwise prohibited by law.

Graham said the idea for her legislation came directly from her Spokane constituents, saying it is something that continually comes up as she interacts with parents in her community.

The 6th District lawmaker said she's been working on the details of her proposal for the last couple of years but wanted to wait for the Legislature to return to in-person operations. If her bill gets a public hearing, she says she knows several people who will drive to Olympia from Spokane to testify as well as others who will take advantage of remote testimony options.

“There isn't a lack of interest from the parents that I've spoken to,” said Graham. “Quite the opposite. This issue of the state raising our kids and taking more and more control away from parents is something that is concerning for the communities and parents in my district.”

House Bill 1601 has been referred to the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee where Graham serves as the Assistant Ranking Member.

The 105-day 2023 legislative session began Monday, Jan. 9.


Washington State House Republican Communications