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Pride Month
Maggie Humphreys's picture

Happy Pride from the other Washington - or as we like to say, the better Washington. Washington State may be a small corner of the country, but the MomsRising community here is a mighty force for change. This Pride month, we’re celebrating two big wins that the Risers championed in the 2024 state legislative session - banning book bans AND adding chosen family to the state’s paid sick and safe leave law. 

Ban on Book Bans 

Across the country, we’ve seen extremists attacking access to  LGBTQ+ books in public school libraries. This Book is Gay is the most-banned book in Washington according to the American Libraries Association. For many students, school libraries are the only place where they have access to diverse, affirming books. This is especially true for LGBTQ+ youth who may not be ready or feel safe coming out to their family. That is why parents, educators, and lawmakers rallied to pass ESHB 2331 - a ban on extremist book bans in public schools. 

Video Billboard Olympia 2024

Introduced by Representative Monica Stonier with a Senate companion Senator T'wina Nobles, this law will prohibit the banning of books or other instructional materials simply because they are related to the contributions of individuals or groups that are part of a protected class. It also requires all districts to create and implement a materials challenge policy based on best practices in school libraries, allowing educators, not extremists, to make professional and thoughtful decisions on diverse, affirming, and inclusive materials.

Every child in our state has the right to diverse stories that help them see themselves in the world as thriving, joyful, and resilient adults. For many youth, especially queer and trans youth, these stories aren't just life giving, they are life saving. 

Including Chosen Family in Paid Sick and Safe Leave 

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When family needs us, we are there for them. Women know this well, we make up two-thirds of unpaid family caregivers. Whether it’s a sick kid home from school or an ailing parent, women are most likely to be the one who re-arranges work, moves appointments, and drops everything to care for others. But if you don’t have access to paid sick days, that time to care for family comes at the high cost of a missed paycheck. 

That’s why MomsRising and our members worked for years to pass statewide paid sick and safe days in Washington back in 2016. This was a huge win for family caregivers, but some family members were left behind. The law only covered time to care for specific family members like parents or children. For many of us, especially members of the LGBTQ+ community, that limited definition doesn’t cover the full range of family. 

But not any more. Sponsored by Senator Rebecca Saldaña and championed in the House by Representative Mary Fosse, SB 5793 adds chosen family to the state leave law so that workers can use their paid sick time to care for extended family as well as chosen family who depend on them for care. This is a huge win for families with diverse, non-nuclear family structures which are more likely in LGBTQ+, immigrant, and BIPOC communities. Excitingly, this bill passed with strong bipartisan support in the House, a reminder of how we can work together to champion family care policies across the aisle. This bill goes into effect January 1, 2025.

What’s next?

We won big in the 2024 legislative session, but we have more work to do this Pride month and beyond. We know our state’s care policies can go a lot further to support LGBTQ+ families. We also know that extremists are working to undo our state’s nation-leading protections for LGBTQ+ people. MomsRising is a plaintiff in a lawsuit happening right now trying to block the anti-LGBTQ+ Parental Bill of Rights Initiative (I-2081). We just heard that thanks to the expert legal work of our partners at the ACLU and Q+ Law Center, some of the initiative's most harmful provisions have been blocked from implementation. 

We will continue to fight for the future we know is possible - one where every child and family is safe, seen, affirmed, and whole. Want to join us? Follow and join our Washington State work here.

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