Dye bill would create a new Washington State Commission on Boys and Men

Rep. Mary Dye has introduced legislation that would create a new Washington State Commission on Boys and Men tasked to address the well-being of boys, male youth and men across the state.

“There are many issues that impact men and boys. Yet, there is no unified voice that would tackle these issues at the state level,” said Dye, R-Pomeroy. “If adopted, this legislation would create the first of its kind boys and men’s commission in the nation right here in Washington state.”

Under House Bill 1270, the commission is directed to focus its efforts on the following areas involving boys and men: education, jobs, careers and financial health, fatherhood, family and relationships, physical and mental health, and the experiences of males in the criminal justice system and other court systems.

Dye said 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.

“Boys are far more likely to be suspended in Washington’s schools. Three out of four suspensions in our state’s classrooms involve boys,” noted Dye. “This is very concerning.”

Dye went on to cite other alarming statistics involving Washington males.

“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,” said Dye. “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, male youth 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 state legislation as it relates to boys and men;
  • advocate for removal of legal and social barriers for boys, male youth and men; and
  • hold 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.”

Brookings Institution Senior Fellow and author Richard Reeves is considered a national expert in the challenges facing boys and men. In a Brookings article, “The case for a Commission on Boys and Men: Will Washington state lead the way?” Reeves writes, “Many boys and men are struggling. There is a strong case of government institutions that focus on the issues that are disproportionately impacting boys and men, and which can be usefully considered through a gender-specific lens. One attractive option is to create Commissions on Boys and Men, at the federal, state and local levels. These would complement the ones that already exist in most states and many cities to work on issues related to women and girls.”

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,” added Dye.

The bill has been referred to the State Government and Tribal Relations Committee.

MEDIA NOTE: Rep. Mary Dye and Brookings Institution Senior Fellow and author Richard Reeves will be available for questions this afternoon (Wednesday, Jan. 18), 2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. in the conference room next to the House Rules Room, 130 Legislative Building.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov