Updated: Dec 2, 2020
by Kimberli Mejia Quito
In the month of October, it was uncovered that Texas had newly established a rule letting social workers openly discriminate against clients who are LGBTQ or have a disability. However, there has been a lot of backlash regarding the ableist and homophobic rule. The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council casted a ballot collectively to restore protections for social workers' LGBTQ and disabled customers after reaction from supporters and legislators. After intense criticism, a state board voted Tuesday the 13th, to undo the rule change that would’ve permitted workers to turn away LGBTQ and disabled clients.
Gloria Canseco, who was designated by Gov. Greg Abbott to lead the behavioral health council, communicated that the previous rule change 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.”
Students were interviewed in hopes to highlight diverse perspectives on this issue. One 10th grade student, Leslie Lopez, communicated, “It’s unfortunate that ableism and homophobia still exists within our society. Progress has been made however, there is obviously a great deal of work to be done...There’s still a great amount of disdain inside our general public and these marginalized communities need more support than ever.”
A 9th grade student, Monica Rodriguez, mentioned, “This is confirmation that there's still a ton of progress that should be made inside our society. I hope these oppressed groups are given adequate help.”
According to “Texas Social Workers Will No Longer Be Allowed To Discriminate Against LGBTQ Texans And People With Disabilities” by Edgar Walters, Abbott’s office suggested recently that the “board strip three categories from a code of conduct that establishes when a social worker may refuse to serve someone.” The lead representative's office suggested eliminating language that prohibited social workers from dismissing customers based on disabilities and gender identity. The explanation, Abbott's office stated, was because the code's nondiscrimination securities went beyond protections laid out in the state law that administers how and when the state may discipline social workers.
There was an immediate firestorm of criticism from social workers, LGBTQ supporters and advocates for individuals with disabilities. State Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, and state Rep. Jessica González, D-Dallas, encouraged the board Tuesday to fix its vote and said they would document enactment one year from now pointed toward preventing discrimination against marginalized communities.
The board likewise cast a ballot to look for opinions from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's office about the legitimacy of its standard change, however the board has recently demonstrated that Paxton's office would most likely oppose the explicit securities for LGBTQ Texans and Texans with disabilities in the social worker’s code of conduct. Paxton is also a Republican who has historically opposed extended insurances and protections for LGBTQ individuals. It was assessed that it would take 90 days or more to hear a conventional attorney general point of view.