The Texan State Board of Social Work Examiners is under fire for unanimously voting to eliminate sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability from the non-discrimination clause of its code of conduct.
The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) has hit out at the organization for opting to follow recommendations set out by Texas Governor Greg Abbott instead of gathering public opinion.
Director of the Texas chapter of the NASW, Will Francis described the move as ‘disturbing, even if it’s unintentional’.
“They created space for people to get the impression that this is allowed now. What the governor has done is put people with disabilities at risk for discrimination for no reason,” Francis told AP.
US Representative and former social worker Sylvia Garcia have urged the board to reverse its decision in a post on Twitter.
“As a former social worker, I’m appalled by the new rule the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners approved last week.
In the middle of a life-threatening, unprecedented pandemic, no one should be denied services for who they are,” Garcia wrote. “This rule change was rushed without input from professional social workers. I hope the Governor and the Board will recognize the terrible repercussions this will have on the safety and well-being of some Texans in the state and will reverse this decision immediately.
Meanwhile, Abbott’s team has defended the recommendation. They said it was simply put in place so its rules are in line with those set out in the Texas Occupations Code, which is what determines how social workers can be disciplined by the state.
“It’s not surprising that a board would align its rules with statutes passed by the Legislature,” a spokesperson for Abbott’s office said.
Equality Texas, Transgender Education Network of Texas, Texas Freedom Network, and a number of different advocacy groups have all written a joint statement denouncing the board’s vote.
“Pro-discrimination groups couldn’t get this passed into law, but Gov. Abbott has done their bidding by pushing it through administratively in an obscure meeting when he thought few people were watching,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said in the release.