Good news, guys! Texas has reversed their rule change that allows social workers the right to discriminate on clients who are LGBTQ people and on persons with disabilities (PWDs). This is thanks to the backlash that they received from advocates, lawmakers, and social workers which goes to show just how important it is for people to speak up and let their voice be heard.
The uproar started earlier this October when Alice Bradford, executive director of the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners (TSBSWE), received an email from Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s staff.
Said email contained a recommendation to the board to change a rule in their code of conduct particularly the non-discrimination protections that prohibits social workers to turn away clients because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.
On October 12, three days after that email, the Texas State Board of Social Workers and the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council unanimously voted to remove the aforementioned nondiscrimination clause from their code of conduct.
The removal of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression from the code would have meant that “LGBTQ+ folks who experience discrimination could face more obstacles to getting the help they need,” says Ricardo Martinez, Chief Executive Officer of Equality Texas, during an interview with the Washington Blade.
On the other hand, Emmett Schelling, executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, said the change would have been “devastating for transgender people in Texas.”
Schelling said in a statement:
<blockquote>Many LGBTQ+ Texans struggle to access competent, quality and affordable health care as is. There is always a real possibility that trans Texans specifically could be turned away or dissuaded from accessing the medical resources they need. At a time when many in our community require services to make it through an isolating pandemic, attempting to grant providers a license to discriminate is abhorrent.</blockquote>
That being said, Will Francis, executive director of the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, released a statement following the reversal of the rule. “We are so grateful for the vote to keep the anti-discrimination protections in place.”
Francis added, “This is a recognition of the key principle that a social worker’s personal beliefs must never impede a person’s right to self-determination or access to services.”
On the other hand, Democratic U.S. Rep Sylvia Garcia said the reversal of the rule was “a big win for justice!” According to USA Today, it was Garcia as well as 10 other members of Congress who “wrote a letter calling on state officials to reverse the ‘outrageous rule.'”
This is a big win for justice! Glad this awful rule change was reversed!— Rep. Sylvia Garcia (@RepSylviaGarcia) October 27, 2020
As social workers, we swore an oath to work in service of humanity and in promotion of social justice.
There is simply no place for discrimination or bigotry in social work. https://t.co/rYtUDgz5Oa
Meanwhile, Gloria Canseco reportedly expressed regret that the removal of the nondiscrimination clause from their code of conduct was “perceived as hostile to the LGBTQ+ community or to disabled persons.”
“At every opportunity our intent is to prohibit discrimination against any person for any reason,” she said. Canseco was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott—a member of the Republican Party—as chair of the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council last year.
Read the story in full here.