Oppose Changes to the Code of Conduct for Social Workers in Texas

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Stand with Texas Social Workers who oppose removing protections against discrimination for disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression from the Social Work Code of Conduct!


The Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is outraged that the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners (TSBSWE) accepted language from the Governor of Texas removing protections against discrimination for disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression from the Social Work Code of Conduct.  The Governor’s office rationalizes this change by claiming that agency rules cannot be more expansive than what is in state law.  However, the TSBSWE has the explicit statutory authority to propose and adopt rules regarding: “the scope of practice of and standards of care and ethical practice for social work.”  This includes defining anti-discrimination protections under the Code of Conduct.

The Code of Conduct is the guide which serves as the foundation for the profession, and disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression should receive protected status.  Social workers already have the ability to decline to provide services to a client based on their competencies and training, but they cannot discriminate based on selective personal values.  And while removing this language does not allow a social worker to discriminate based on other state and federal statutes, especially in the area of disability, it could send the erroneous message that this is allowed.  This might deter a client from coming in for services, or cause a social worker to withhold a service they are ethically obligated to provide.

From Ali Ramos, MSW

"I’m a 33-year-old queer, disabled woman and I also happen to hold an MSW. I’m an advocate. I’m in the queue to be approved to become licensed as an LMSW. I live with a neuromuscular disability which highly limits the mobility in my limbs, although the only true limitation I experience is society’s ableist interpretations of who I am as a person. I also have anxiety and depression. While living in an incredibly conservative area of Texas, who am I to go to when I need treatment for my physical and mental health? Will my colleagues turn their back on me because of how I move and who I love? This is an abhorrent revision to the TSBSWE’s code of conduct and is against everything that I am as a professional and person."

From Melanie "JaeHee" Chung-Sherman, LCSW-S, LCPAA, PLLC., NASW/TX Board Member (she, her, hers):

"The intentional removal of protections by the TSBSWE and BHEC based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and disabilities was callous, unacceptable, and derisive. The complete lack of regard for Texans who identify within the LGBTQ+, non-binary, and disability community was exemplified by the unanimous and taciturn decision to redact the specific protective language from the SW Code of Conduct by TSBSWE and BHEC Governor Abbott's appointed regulatory board members--all of whom are also licensed social workers and mental health providers (LPCs, LMFTs, and psychologists) who not only provide treatment, supervision, administration, and social services within diverse populations, but also oversee thousands of license reviews, complaints, supervisor status, Codes of Conduct, and ethical/legal practice within the state of Texas. Social workers have a legal and ethical duty to provide equitable, accessible, and competent services to all Texans (which includes fellow clients, colleagues, students, and peers), with a particular specificity for marginalized communities who encounter historical and continuous roadblocks to fair and non-discriminatory actions such as the removal of these protections. These changes are not only in direct violation of the NASW Code of Ethics but create confusion for social workers providing services and some who rely upon the Code of Conduct to protect their service provision when employers and/or organizations refuse fair and equal treatment based on identity. The misguided initiatives also create undo identity-based stress and apprehension for clients seeking assistance due to fears of further discrimination and bias--and at the height of a global pandemic, disproportionate barriers to public health care, economic downturn, and socio-political environment that continues to intensify unpredictability and fear. On behalf of NASW-TX, as the Region 3 NASW-TX Board of Directors Representative and a proud NASW member since 2004, we are requesting the immediate reinstatement of protective language to the Social Work Code of Conduct. 

#StandwithTXSocialWorkers because every Texan's life is worthy of respect, dignity, unbiased, and compassionate care that is upheld by safeguarding protections for the most vulnerable populations."

From Steven Parks, LCSW, NASW/TX Board Member

"Texas social workers are outraged by the Governor’s personal attack to strip away protections for the vulnerable populations we serve. The governor has erased legal protections for social workers to serve the disabled and LGBT persons.  This despicable action paves the way for conservative social service organizations of all types to deny services to vulnerable Texans (mental health services, shelter space, employment assistance, and healthcare). This is just the latest act in a tiring history of hobbling social workers in Texas. It is unacceptable. Texas Social Workers are mobilizing to restore the law that extends legal protections to be consistent with our ethical code of conduct. Please support our efforts to fight this oppression."

Sign this petition to show Texas social workers that you oppose any changes to their Code of Conduct. Stand with Texas Social Workers who oppose removing protections against discrimination for disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression from the Social Work Code of Conduct!