The Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners will no longer prohibit social workers from turning away clients on the basis of disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.
The change comes after a recommendation from Governor Greg Abbott’s office, according to Edgar Walters with the Texas Tribune, on the basis that “the code [of conduct’s] nondiscrimination protections went beyond protections laid out in the state law that governs how and when the state may discipline social workers.”
Houston social worker Steven Parks, who works with child trauma victims, is one of many people who are against the change, calling it a professional and personal punch in the gut.
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“There’s now a gray area between what’s legally allowed and ethically responsible,” he said, as reported by Walters. “The law should never allow a social worker to legally do unethical things.”
Walters reported that the Texas Legislature, led primarily by Republicans, has long opposed the extension of non-discrimination protections to LGBTQ Texans in employment, housing and other areas of state law.
Per U.S. health officials, more than 100 Texas counties are suffering from a shortage of social workers, among other mental health professionals, and Parks said the policy change could impact LGBTQ clients’ access to mental health services in those areas.
“There’s research to show that members of the queer community … are at higher risk for trauma, higher risk for all sorts of mental health conditions,” he said, as reported by Walters.
Executive Director Will Francis with the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers said the board received approval in 2010 to discriminate against clients based on sexual orientation, but gender identity and expression protections were added in 2012.
Source : chron.com