In October 2020, the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners (TSBSWE) and the members of its licensing board reviewed proposed changes to the social work rules. One of the proposed changes was to remove provisions in the Social Work Code of Conduct that protect Texans with disabilities and LGBTQ+ Texans against discrimination. Along with our allies, we opposed these changes, and they were not made.
In June, the Texas Attorney General’s office issued a non-binding legal opinion that the TSBSWE could alter the Social Work Code of Conduct to remove protections for Texans based on disability or LGBTQ+ status. Non-binding means that TSBSWE doesn’t have to make the change, but it wouldn’t be illegal if it did. According to the National Association of Social Workers-Texas Chapter, removing protections would prevent TSBSWE from taking disciplinary action against a social work professional for discriminating against a person with a disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity, or gender expression.
Right now, the Social Work Code of Conduct still has non-discrimination protections for disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. The Arc of Texas joins our allies in asking TSBSWE to keep the non-discrimination protections in the Code of Conduct as currently written.
How to Get Involved
Our partners at NASW-Texas Chapter have created calls-to-action tools and ideas for ways you can participate in advocacy efforts against discrimination against Texans with disabilities and LGBTQ+ Texans:
- • Share your story at the virtual TSBSWE meeting on Friday, July 9, 2021 at 9 a.m. CT.
- • Send an email to Gov. Abbott and your legislators asking them to support the TSBSWE and the current anti-discrimination language in the Code of Conduct.
- • Show support on social media. Use #StandWithTXSocialWorkers and say you want to keep the anti-discrimination language in the Social Work Code of Conduct and ask others to support us too. Out-of-state supporters can sign the pledge.
- • Join our Stand with TX Social Workers Press Conference on July 7th from 2 to 3:30 p.m. CT on Facebook Live to see legislative champions and advocates stand up for social workers.Live tweet during the press conference with the #StandWithTXSocialWorkers hashtag.
Statement from The Arc of Texas, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, The Arc of Texas, and Disability Rights Texas
A jolt in October 2020, then another in June 2021, has left the community of Texans with disabilities no alternative but to speak out against harmful, state-level discrimination. The arena is the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners (TSBSWE), the board charged with oversight of the social work profession. In October, at the request of the Governor’s office, TSBSWE proposed removing from the Code of Conduct the prohibition against discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Facing huge pushback from advocates for the civil rights of the disability and LGBTQ+ communities and social workers themselves, the proposed change was reversed within weeks. But in June 2021, the Texas Attorney General issued a nonbinding opinion on the matter. The Attorney General appears to say that TSBSWE indeed may issue a Code of Conduct removing the prohibition of discrimination based on disability and LGBTQ+ status. The Attorney General also suggests that TSBSWE may not even have the authority to prohibit that same discrimination.
As representatives of over 3 million Texans with disabilities, we stand in solidarity with members of the LGBTQ+ community to reject any attempt to alter the Social Work Code of Conduct to remove protections for our fellow Texans. According to the National Association of Social Workers-Texas Chapter, forfeiting the protections would prevent TSBSWE from taking disciplinary action against a social work professional for discriminating against a person with a disability. Instead, a person with a disability would need to utilize the court system to seek redress before the TSBSWE could act, resulting in a year(s) long process during which the social worker would remain in practice. Removing these protections could result in a devastating chilling effect on people in crisis seeking the help of a social work professional.
The measure of a person can best be judged by what actions they take when there is a choice to be made. The appointed members of TSBSWE are Brian C. Brumley, Katie Andrade, Megan Marie Graham, Audrey Ramsbacher, Asia Rodgers, Ben W. Morris, Dolores Saenz-Davila and Jennifer Swords. The AG opinion is nonbinding. We call on the TSBSWE to preserve the current Social Work Code of Conduct.