Wednesday, April 6, 2016

In Tennessee: Lawmakers pass Counseling Discrimination bill

Gov. Haslam

Lord, my homestate!

Lawmakers in Tennessee just passed a bill that would allow mental health professionals to refuse service to anyone that troubles their religious beliefs Basically, another hate/Anti-LGBT bill. HB 1840 passed the House with a vote of 68-22, then in the Senate with 27-5.

The state's ACLU reports on how this bill is dangerous
What SB 1556/HB 1840 would do: This bill would allow counselors and therapists to discriminate against clients based on the counselor’s own religious beliefs. By allowing discrimination against clients, this bill defies professional standards and could cause significant harm to vulnerable people who are seeking help.

If this bill becomes law, counselors could refuse to see clients for almost unlimited reasons. For instance, a counselor could refuse to see a lesbian simply because of her sexual orientation, or to see a couple involved in an interfaith relationship. A counselor who is an atheist could refuse to see a Catholic client—and the list goes on.

For people seeking counseling because they are faced with a critical dilemma in their lives and need objective guidance, allowing mental health professionals to discriminate could cause grave damage. Many who need care already face significant barriers, including trauma, marginalization, and a historic distrust of mental health providers. For some—like a woman who wants to escape her abusive spouse or a gay teen being bullied, for example—this bill could affect their very survival.

Turning away clients because of personal religious beliefs creates unethical barriers to access to care. Some places—such as schools—only have one counselor. If a school counselor refused care to a student, that child would have no other option to get the care he or she needed. Tennessee also has many rural communities that have few providers. If there is not another counselor nearby, it may be challenging or impossible for a client to get the child care, transportation and time off required to travel for treatment. Additionally, there may not be another provider within a reasonable distance that accepts a client’s insurance.

Now, HB 1840 goes to GOP Gov. Bill Haslam to sign. He better veto

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The American Counseling Association (ACA) has initiated an international petition to prevent this from becoming law. Discrimination of any sort violates the code of ethical conduct of the ACA. I'm a student finishing up a graduate level degree in counseling. This is the biggest mobilizing moment in the the counseling profession in decades. The law violates professional ethics and is unnecessary. Does Tennessee really have many licensed counselors who wish to violate the ethics of their profession?

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Viktor is a small town southern boy living in Los Angeles. You can find him on Twitter, writing about pop culture, politics, and comics. He’s the creator of the graphic novel StrangeLore and currently getting back into screenwriting.