On Monday 12 October, the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners voted unanimously to eradicate protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or disability; this means social workers can refuse clients on these grounds. According to The Texas Tribune, the change in legislation was suggested by Texas governor Greg Abbott because the current social work codes ‘go beyond’ the anti-discrimination rulings in state law.
The reformed rulings prohibit the refusal of social care on the basis of “the recipient’s age, sex, race, religion, national origin, colour, or political affiliation” but fails to mention the LGBTQ+ community or those with disabilities. Will Francis, executive director National Association of Social Workers in Texas, called the decision “incredibly disheartening” due to its implications for the LGBTQ+ community and disabled people.
Steven Parks, a Houston based social worker, added: “It’s both a professional and a personal gut punch. “There’s now a grey area between what’s legally allowed and ethically responsible. The law should never allow a social worker to legally do unethical things.”