Action Needed to Preserve Parental Rights in Virginia

Virginia HB 580, which would insert troubling language into the state’s child abuse provision, is scheduled for a hearing before the Social Services Sub-Sommittee of the House Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee on Thursday, January 23 (tomorrow!)

UPDATE January 23, 2020: The Sub-committee did not get to HB 580 today. We will watch for the next time it is scheduled. Meanwhile, please contact your lawmakers to oppose this dangerous bill.

This bill would add to the current definition of an “abused or neglected child” one “whose parent or other person responsible for his care creates or inflicts, threatens to create or inflict, or allows to be created or inflicted upon such child a physical or mental injury on the basis of the child’s gender identity or sexual orientation.” This will widen the net and ensnare even more innocent families in unwarranted child welfare investigations.


Growing children ask: who am I? What am I? Parents have the right to help answer those questions in an atmosphere free from the fear of being investigated for child abuse. Parents have the right to guide a child away from behavior that will be harmful to the growing child’s sense of identity.

This bill undermines those rights by threatening to treat loving, discerning parents like child abusers.

Currently, 83% of child welfare investigations nationally are closed as “unfounded” or “unsubstantiated.” CPS investigations are themselves traumatic events for many children. This bill is likely to increase the number of investigations, causing more harm to more children than it will help.

The statute gives no definition of “mental injury.” It is possible, or even likely, that anything a parent does or says that the child does not like would be construed as “mental injury.” But parents know instinctively that allowing a child to do exactly what they want all the time can lead to serious harm.

Mentoring a child through the growth process of discerning wants, needs, and emotions and preparing a child for independent decision-making as an adult are truly crucial parts of parenting.

Because children are children, they tend to think and act primarily with the short term in mind.  Parents have the life experience to see and help their children grow to understand things from a long term and broader point of view.  Children benefit from the parent’s more mature perspective and modeling of the decision-making process.

In order to preserve the right of parents to direct the upbringing of children, opposes this bill.

Take Action

The members of the Sub-Committee on Social Services are:

Elizabeth Guzman (Chair, D-31st)


Laschrecse Aird (D-63rd)


Karrie Delaney (D-67th)


Kathy Tran (D-42nd)


Wendell Scott Walker (R-23rd)


John Avoli (R-20th)


Mark Sickles (Ex-oficio, D-43rd)


If your delegate is on the list, please call them today and urge them to respect parental rights by voting “No” on HB 580. Then, reach out to friends and family in your district and urge them to call, too.

If your delegate is not on the list, you can send them an email and tell them you oppose HB 580 on the grounds that it infringes parents’ fundamental rights. Urge them to vote against HB 580 should it come before them for a vote at any time.

Thank you for standing with us in Virginia as we fight to protect children by halting bad bills like HB 580 in their tracks.


Michael Ramey

Executive Director