|THE "LOST BOYS" LAW GOVERNOR SIGNS EMANCIPATION BILL TO HELP HOMELESS TEENS|
The Lost Boys have finally found a law to protect them. Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. highlighted the Emancipation of a Minor Act today when he ceremonially signed House Bill 30, which allows youth who are at least 16 years old to gain legal standing to get housing, education and other services. The new law is aimed specifically for homeless youth, including the "Lost Boys," a group of teenage boys and girls who have been forced or encouraged to leave some polygamous communities.
"The plight of the Lost Boys has prompted all of us to reconsider the heartbreaking problems facing all homeless teens," says Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who worked with legislators to help pass the bill. "The Emancipation law gives these kids a much needed break."
The new law allows minors to ask a juvenile court judge on their own behalf to be emancipated. The judge will consider the child's circumstances and determine whether he or she can live independently. Among other things, the emancipated minor will be able to enter into contracts, buy and sell property, obtain health care and borrow money for an education. They will not be allowed to vote, use alcohol, tobacco or firearms or skirt other health and safety regulations relevant to age.
House Bill 30 finally passed because of the dogged determination of Representatives Roz McGee and Lori Fowlke and Senator Curtis Bramble. Rep. McGee has been a children's advocate for years and had seen the need to set guidelines and criteria for youth to be emancipated. "The youth who have been abandoned by their parents will finally get the services and community support they deserve."
Here are some of the teens who are hoping to be helped by the new law:
The Lost Boys may have been a catalyst for House Bill 30, but it was also driven by some concerns raised by the Utah Homeless Youth Questionnaire. The recent survey found some disturbing statistics about Utah's homeless teens:
Originally published May 2, 2006
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