Dye introduces bill to help men, boys
Last updated 1/26/2023 at 12:46pm
RITZVILLE — A local lawmaker has introduced legislation to create the Washington State Commission on Boys and Men to address the well-being of boys and men across.
“There are many issues that impact men and boys. Yet, there is no unified voice that would tackle these issues at the state level,” 9th Legislative District Rep. Mary Dye, R-Pomeroy said. “If adopted, this legislation would create the first of its kind boys and men’s commission in the nation right here in Washington state.”
Dye represents Whitman, Lincoln, southern Spokane and most of Franklin and Adams Counties as part of the 9th District.
Under House Bill 1270, the commission would focus on education, jobs, careers and financial health, fatherhood, family and relationships, physical and mental health, and the experiences of boys/men in the criminal justice system and other court systems.
Data shows that Washington’s male population experience disparities in key indicators of well-being, including educational achievement, suicide, homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction and overdose and incarceration, she said.
“Boys are far more likely to be suspended in schools. Three-out-of-four suspensions in our state’s classrooms involve boys,” Dye said. “This is very concerning.”
She went on to cite other statistics:
“We’ve found that 63 percent of those experiencing homelessness are male in Washington state. Between 2018 and 2021, 67 percent of more than six-thousand individuals in Washington state who died from a drug overdose were male. Of the young people who spent time in a juvenile rehabilitation facility between 2019 and 2021, 91 percent were male. And a 2021 report states that 94 percent of people confined in Washington’s correctional facilities were male,” Dye said. “We want to find out why these rates are so high and why males account for the highest percentage of suicide and homicide deaths, and other issues affecting our male population.”
Commission duties spelled out in the bill include:
• Identify and define specific needs of boys and men, and provide recommendations for addressing those needs in reports to the Legislature and the governor.
• Consult with state agencies on the development and implementation of policies.
• Provide a clearinghouse for information regarding legislation as it relates to boys and men.
• Advocate for removal of legal and social barriers for boys and men.
• Host public hearings to gather input on issues related to the unique problems and needs of boys, male youth and men.
The bill also proposes that the new commission be “tasked with developing strategies to encourage men and male youth to consider careers in teaching, mental health, social work, nursing, and other professions where the workforce severely lacks male participation.”
The commission would be made up of nine voting members, appointed by the governor and leaders of the four legislative caucuses. It would also include two members from the House and Senate from both parties.
“Washington state has been the leader in many new and innovative policies. A Washington State Commission on Boys and Men would be another way we can lead the nation in areas of education, employment, family life and health for the benefit our male population,” Dye said.
The bill has been referred to the State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.