It’s ok, LGBTQ Texans! Your right to a nondiscriminatory social worker is secured!
Two weeks ago, we shared with you the unfortunate news that Texas’s Board of Social Worker Examiners unanimously voted to change its code of conduct. The board worked along with Governor Greg Abbott’s recommendation to remove protections for sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability. As Abbott’s office told reporters, this recommendation was because the state’s Occupations Code already laid out who was protected from discrimination and how to discipline violating social workers.
“It’s not surprising that a board would align its rules with statutes passed by the Legislature,” said Renae Eze, spokeswoman for Abbott’s office.
After that vote, many social work organizations and LGBTQ rights groups condemned the board. But now, it appears that health and public officials have decided to repeal that recent decision. According to the Texas Tribune, the board voted unanimously to restore the earlier protections. Gloria Canseco, who was appointed by Gov. Abbott to lead the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council, regretted that the vote 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.
This should have never happened to begin with, but it's good to see how quickly all of the collective advocacy efforts led to a reversal. Congratulations and thank you to all who helped in this effort. https://t.co/E4QFKQjwMQ
— Alan Dettlaff (@AlanDettlaff) October 27, 2020
Again, the board made the initial decision to align with state law, as the board’s rules went beyond the protections specified by the state. Though by repealing the specific anti-discrimination guidelines, the gap left people with disabilities, sexual orientations, and gender identities vulnerable. While some of the board may not have intended this, its effect remained a dangerous moment for many Texan citizens. But now that the board has gone back on the ruling, these citizens are safe against face discrimination, of the before mention types, from social workers.
“We are so grateful for the vote to keep the anti-discrimination protections in place,” said Will Francis, executive director of the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. “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.”
Source: The Texas Tribune,