Senate bill warped by Sen. Giessel into allowing transition counseling for students without parents’ knowledge

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Senate Bill 240 started out as a legislative way to ensure that disabled students can get the help they need at school, and that Medicaid will be able to pay for some of the services. It was Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s bill to clean up some processes in the technical world of federal reimbursements.

But by the time Sen. Cathy Giessel of South Anchorage finished with the bill, it had been completely rewritten. Now, the committee substitute for the bill makes it into a law saying that 16-year-olds can get counseling and clinical services at school without their parents’ knowledge. In other words, counselors can do traditional counseling work or even gender-transition counseling within the high school framework, and hide that work from parents.

The completely rewritten bill passed out of committee on a vote of 3-2, with its Senate Sponsor, Sen. David Wilson firmly against the changes.

The committee substitute passed the Senate floor, again with Wilson opposed to the amendments to the bill, and with Sen. Shelley Hughes arguing against the changes on the Senate floor. But the committee substitute, as authored by Giessel and passed by her committee, was adopted by the Senate, 13-7.

The vote to accept the complete rewrite of the governor’s health billing bill passed and will be voted on during the Senate floor session on April 24.

On Wednesday, the rewrite will be up for a final vote in the Senate.

The original version said that school-based services for students with disabilities could be paid for by Medicaid, with or without an individualized education program, also known as IEP. It is explained in the governor’s sponsor statement:

The new version of the bill eclipses the original intent. Sen. Giessel wants school personnel to be able to recommend behavioral health or mental health services to a child who is 16 or older, and that child would be considered adult enough to consent to those services without their parents’ knowledge. For example:

“Insert ‘allowing minors 16 years of age or older to consent to behavioral health and mental health services; authorizing school personnel to recommend a behavioral health or mental health professional to a child 16 years of age or older;'” the bill reads now.

It also says, “Notwithstanding AS 14.30.l7l (a)(3) and (S), a behavioral or mental health professional working within a public school system may, in compliance with federal health professional … (1) recommend, but not require, a psychiatric or behavioral health evaluation of a child; AND recommend, but not require, psychiatric, psychological, or behavioral treatment for a child; and obtain informed consent from and provide behavioral or mental health services to a child who is 16 years of age or older.”

The bill goes on to say that minors can give consent for medical or dental services if the parent or legal guardian cannot be contacted or if the parent or legal guardian is unwilling to grant consent.

The bill says the medical provider at the school shall counsel the minor “keeping in mind not only the valid interests of the minor but also the valid interests of the parent or guardian and the family unit as best the provider presumes them.”

It continues to say that the minor can give consent to receive outpatient behavioral or mental health services, but that such services to not include the prescribing of medication to the minor without a parent or guardian’s consent. The bill says the mental health provider shall contact the parents and offer to provide services to the family unless there “are clear clinical indications that doing so would be harmful to the minor receiving such services.”

The entire amendment that has transformed the bill now allows not only counseling but, although not explicitly saying so, allows gender transition counseling.

The original bill had the support of those in the health field. They offered letters explaining why.

The Alaska Hospital and Healthcare Association wrote, “AHHA is pleased to offer our support for SB 240 and its removal of the requirement that Medicaid can only reimburse for school-based services if the student has a disability and the services are included in the student’s Individualized Education Plan.”

The association continued, “We view this change as a means of increasing flexibility for schools to seek Medicaid reimbursement for eligible students and extending this coverage to all Medicaid eligible students. This bill matters to Alaskans because it will increase healthcare access and improve child health outcomes. Additionally, schools will be able to fund health-related services like school nurses. AHHA urges the passage of SB 240 to better align with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and support access to services within schools for Medicaid eligible children.”

The new Senate bill, however, has AHHA on record supporting the counseling and possible gender transition of high school students without their parents consent — something that AHHA might not have wanted to sign onto.

The Alaska Behavioral Health Association also signed on to support the original version of the bill, but is now on record supporting what is an entirely different bill.

The ABHA wrote, “Alaska Behavioral Health is pleased to offer support for SB 240 and HB 343. These bills align with our organization’s priorities to increase access to health care services for children and will increase flexibility for schools to seek Medicaid reimbursement for eligible children.

“Currently, for Medicaid to cover services provided in schools, the child must have a disability and the services must be included in the child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Currently, some children lose supportive services when they age out of infant learning programs because they do not meet the requirements for an IEP, though they still have needs that can be met in a school setting. These bills remove those current requirements. In doing so, they present an opportunity for schools to seek Medicaid reimbursement for services provided on site. They will promote early intervention and prevention, and they will promote more convenient choices for parents seeking the care their children need.”

The original bill supported parent-directed services provided in the school setting, maintained the current scope of school-based services, preserved parent choice in children’s care, including what services they receive and where they receive them. Read the original bill explanation and summary here.

But with the radical changes to the bill, parents are cut out of the equation.

The ABHA is now on record as supporting a bill that has gone from being a technical fix to a permission slip for school counselors, who may or may not share the values of the family, to have extraordinary influence over the decisions of youth during a time of their lives when they are most impressionable.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Sending out a veto request here from Senator Giessel’s district… The ranked-choice voting election was won by Catherine Giessel in round 2. In round 1 Giessel drew less than 50% of the total votes cast.

  2. And yet the AK GOP won’t censure her (she won, after all), won’t build in rules that will allow them the opportunity to boot her, or even mount and support a credible challenger.

  3. Government schools: Stay in your lane and please, please teach children how to read. That would seem to be your primary mission.

  4. In a way it makes sense. Most of the AK GOP, upon election, transition into democrats. Often against the wishes of the voters who originally put them in office.

  5. My kids went to school with Cathy Giessel’s kids. Swimming lessons together. I supported her campaigns when I lived in her district. Rich even came out personally to place the signs in our front yard. I’m wondering what in the world has happened to her. Mental illness?

  6. Senate Republicans are flaked out. She’s got her cronies in the Senate that will back her.
    I find it interesting how all stick together in voting…Giessel supports Jesse Bjorkman, whom is a schoolteacher contributing $1000 to his campaign in the APOC reports.

  7. For “allowing transition counseling for students without parents’ knowledge”, one could be forgiven for regarding Peoples Imperial State Senator Giessel as a repulsive subspecies of the lowest form of human trash to inhabit this planet.
    .
    So… Giessel’s on the record (forever) as being all in for brainwashing and mutilating children without parents’ knowledge.
    .
    Remind us, what’s the difference between Giessel forcing taxpayers to subsidize “allowing transition counseling for students without parents’ knowledge” and neighborhood registered sex offenders providing the same service for free?

    • ” what’s the difference between Giessel forcing taxpayers to subsidize “allowing transition counseling for students without parents’ knowledge” and neighborhood registered sex offenders providing the same service for free? ”

      Here’s the difference: I can eliminate the neighborhood cho mo if I catch it in the act of defiling a child. Not so much a counselor shielded by the law or the politician(s) responsible for it.

  8. Parents are supposed to be responsible for their children until they turn 18.
    Parental rights continue to be eroded.

    Sterlization of our youth is not the only problem.
    What if the “professional” prescribes addictive medication with an ADHD diagnosis that can cause severe behavioral changes? How can the parents get their child back?
    What if the “professional” prescribes medication with side effects for “suidical tendencies” and the child commits suicide? How can the parents get their child back?

    Let the parents be the guardians.

  9. So embarrassing for the Republican Party of Alaska who has thrown support and funds (donated by people like us) behind the senators who supported this bill besides Geissel. Bishop, Stedman, and Stevens have joined in this unholy alliance with democrats to remove parental authority and give it to government.

  10. Is it possible to further amend the ruling, specifically disallowing gender counseling? Much of the world seems to be waking up to the fact that this is not a good idea to push until people are adults. While 16 is much better than at the time of puberty, it still is a very vulnerable time when kids can make some pretty poor choices.

  11. The republican party of Alaska allows democrats to run as Republicans, you see this with Giessel and Stevens. I won’t support the Alaska republican party until they grow a spine.

  12. Two parents were recently convicted because their child went and shot up a school. So will the People assuming parental rights face prosecution if they do this? If the state has decided it can interfere with the parents rights to raise the child seems to me they get the Liability as well! I think those Legislators that created this also should shoulder their share of the blame! The so called Republican Party of Alaska needs a good Spring Cleaning we have a RINO infestation!

  13. There is a reason Biden in a speech said, “All children are our children”. Folks, you don’t live in the real world anymore. Common sense and the Constitution do not exist in the world of global leftists. We are literally fighting for our children’s future, or they are doomed to having pedo’s and deviants’ rule their lives. We are fighting for our children and their future freedom. There is no time to sit and complain, we must engage at every level. You are witnessing an implementation of socialism/communism against your will. They will not stop! You are going to have to push back and speak up. Americans are coming to the realization that many of the politicians in government are paid off to do the bidding of their handlers. When you do not have control of your elections and blindly vote for someone without knowing their background just because they have a letter next to their name, you will lose your freedoms. Alaskans for honest elections is taking the fight to the public arena. We have the repeal of RCV already on the ballot. There is a new petition drive to fully take control of our elections back. We need to end the machines and go back to paper and hand counted ballots. We need to restrict mail-in voting and force clean voter rolls. Check out the initiative on their website and volunteer to get back your power to choose. Don’t expect allot of help from the Alaska GOP rank and file. The election group says they get more help from out of state GOP than here! Shows you how corrupt the Alaska GOP here is. How disgusting is that?

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