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Texas Social Workers Limit Protections for LGBTQ Individuals

Under the direction of Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas State of Social Work Examiners (Examiners) voted a few weeks ago to remove disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity from the nondiscrimination clause in its code of conduct. The social workers’ code of conduct sets forth 13 areas defining what constitutes professional behavior. One area limits a social worker’s ability to refuse service to a client when based on certain protected categories. Texas had included disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity since at least 2012.

The National Association of Social Workers spoke out against the decision, including the Examiner’s decision not to seek public comment. Governor Abbott’s office asserted that the requested change aligned with the state’s Occupations Code. According to AP, seven advocacy groups released a statement protesting the decision. They assert that “pro-discrimination groups couldn’t get this passed into law” but the Governor pushed it through administratively. News reports suggest that the Texas Legislature previously opposed expanding nondiscrimination protections to LGBTQ Texans under state law.

After a strong backlash from lawmakers and advocates, the state board reversed its decision on October 27, 2020. The vote to restore the removed protections for LGBTQ and disabled individuals was unanimous.