Stop Discrimination in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Stop Discrimination in Communication Sciences and Disorders

November 4, 2022
Signatures: 1,359Next Goal: 1,500
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Why this petition matters

Started by Charlie Lenell

The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) establishes accreditation standards and accredits graduate programs in audiology and speech-language pathology. The CAA continues to accredit university programs who actively discriminate against TLGBQ+ individuals (students, faculty, and/or clients) in Communication Sciences and Disorders . 

Such discrimination violates ASHA's Code of Ethics and violates the CAA's policy. CAA Standard 1.8 states, “The institution and program must comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and executive orders prohibiting discrimination towards students, faculty, staff, and persons served in the program’s clinics. This includes prohibitions on discrimination based on any category prohibited by applicable law but not limited to age, citizenship, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, and veteran status."

The CAA claims that ".... accrediting bodies like the CAA are required to recognize such exemptions if a program is controlled by a religious organization whose religious beliefs conflict with accreditation standards." However, the CAA can request that such institutions ensure quality education through other means (See action items below). Additionally, another accrediting body, the American Bar Association, specifically states that even religious schools with religious exemptions “may not be applied to use admission policies or take other action to preclude admission of applicants or retention of students on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, or disability.” 

L'GASP (the LGBTQIA+ Caucus of ASHA) has asked a series of questions of the CAA to understand why university programs can violate ASHA's Code of Ethics and the CAA standards. The CAA responded with this information. L’GASP is confused by the discrepancies between the CAA statements and their actions. Clearly Standard 1.8 is aimed at inclusion and diversity efforts but falls short when discriminating programs remain accredited. 

"The CAA is a semi-autonomous body within the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (“ASHA”)." This means that while the CAA operates separately from ASHA, it is still associated with ASHA. The CAA should; therefore, uphold ASHA's Code of Ethics for university programs. 

We are requesting the CAA do the following: 

  1. Publish a list of Title IX exempt institutions that allow discrimination so that students, clients, and faculty can avoid harm from these programs.  
  2. Require programs who discriminate against TLGBQ+ people to clarify in their non-discrimination statement regarding who is protected from discrimination and who is not.  This clarified non-discrimination statement should be included on websites and all application materials.  
  3. Require programs that discriminate against TLGBQ+ people to show how they are providing education about competently serving TLGBQ+ people through outsourcing, such as self-study, attending workshops, or clinical experiences with places that serve the TLGBQ+ community.
  4. Change the standards for certification to require specific coursework and/or clinical experience with TLGBQ+ clients.
  5. Change the CAA Standard regarding granting religious exemption for the purposes of discrimination to resemble the one used by the American Bar Association (referenced above).
  6. Hire someone in ASHA/CAA who understands/specializes in Title IX exemptions and how that applies to or does not apply to accreditation.
  7. Simplify the process for reporting discrimination and if the discrimination is dismissed by the CAA, outline why it was dismissed and how to appeal and resubmit the discriminatory incident. 

We understand that religious liberty is an important part of the U.S. culture; however, those liberties should not be allowed to create policies that expel or punish TLGBQ+ students, refuse to teach established principles in the ASHA code of ethics, refuse to teach the professional scope of practice, and discriminate against clients in university clinics based on demographic characteristics. Although these actions will not stop discrimination in CSD, they will mitigate some of the harm to CSD TLGTQ+ students, clients, and faculty. 

We were recently informed that in order to change the actual standards to allow for such enforcement, we would need to gather together “our peers” and request such changes.  That is why we are circulating this petition. 



Charlie Lenell, PhD, CCC-SLP

Greg Robinson, PhD, CCC-SLP

Jesse Hoffmeister, PhD, CCC-SLP

Tedd Masiongale, MA, CCC-SLP

Robert Rimac, PhD, CCC-SLP 

Connor Mahon, BA

Joe A. Melcher, PhD, (Retired)

Elaine Rudel, MS, CCC-SLP






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Signatures: 1,359Next Goal: 1,500
Support now