ACLU of Washington, Legal Voice, and QLaw, sue the State of Washington to prevent I-2081 from going into effect

News Release: 
Thursday, May 23, 2024
May 23, 2024 

Seattle, WA – The ACLU of Washington, Legal Voice, and QLaw filed a lawsuit on behalf of ten plaintiffs on Thursday to stop the implementation of Initiative 2081, which passed the Washington Legislature in March. The initiative contains vague language that changes important laws that protect youth privacy, and its implementation will result in harm to LGBTQ+ students, youth of color, and students from other marginalized backgrounds.

The organizations argue that the initiative misled state lawmakers and the public, and violates the Washington Constitution by failing to identify the many existing laws it changes. Through vague and broad language, the initiative amends, contradicts, and runs afoul of numerous existing laws that protect students’ privacy rights and laws that are intended to ensure inclusion, student safety, and well-being.

The parental notification provisions in I-2081, for example, contradict pre-existing privacy protections for health records and likely interfere with youths’ rights to independently consent to certain medical treatment. It broadens disclosures to potentially include otherwise confidential mental health counseling records. And it unduly burdens legislative mandates that education in Washington must contain inclusive curriculum.

Initiative 2081 will harm Black and Indigenous youth, youth who access school-based sexual health services and/or mental health counseling, unhoused students, and youth survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence by potentially exposing private medical and mental health records without the young person’s permission. It also risks outing LGTBQ+ students and endangering their safety if they do not have support at home.

The organizations seek an order preventing the initiative from going into effect in June.

“Initiative 2081 is a forced outing law that will harm LGBTQ+ students if implemented in our schools,” said Denise Diskin, attorney for QLaw Foundation. “LGBTQ+ students seek out safe and trusted school staff when they don’t have a supportive home, and the affirmation they receive can be life-saving. I-2081 undercuts this and other vital resources at a time when youth need support the most.”

“Initiative I-2081 rests on the assumption that all homes are safe, and that is sadly not the case,” said Erin Lovell, executive director of the Legal Counsel for Youth and Children. “The courts should stop I-2081 from going into effect and prevent the irreparable harm this unconstitutional and dangerous law will cause for our most vulnerable youth.”

“2081 is intentionally harmful to our most vulnerable students,” said Julia Marks, attorney for Legal Voice. “From its vague language to its misleading framing, it is a dangerous bill that targets students who need confidential support — from queer youth to youth survivors of sexual violence, to youth who need reproductive or mental health care — and it interferes with the inclusive curricula that all our students deserve.”

“Article II, Section 37 of the Washington Constitution is designed to ensure a proposed law’s full intent and impact on current law is clear, but I-2081 has only caused confusion,” said Adrien Leavitt, staff attorney for the ACLU of Washington. “The initiative passed because of deception and confusion, and it will cause life-altering negative outcomes for queer and trans students if it is implemented.”