(WB) Facing criticism from LGBT rights advocates and mental health experts, Texas officials reversed policy Tuesday enacted at the behest of Gov. Greg Abbott allowing social workers to turn away people from being LGBT or having a disability, according to the Texas Tribune.
The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council reportedly voted on a unanimous basis to restore the prohibition on discrimination clients for being LGBT and disabled as part of Texas social workers’ code of conduct just two weeks after removing them.
Gloria Canseco, appointed by Abbott to lead the behavioral health council, was quoted as expressing regret the previous rule change was “perceived as hostile to the LGBTQ+ community or to disabled persons.”
“At every opportunity our intent is to prohibit discrimination against any person for any reason,” she said.
The Washington Blade has placed a request in with the council seeking confirmation of the reversal.
Two Texas agencies — the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners and the Behavioral Health Executive Council — had voted two weeks ago to change a section of code of conduct to remove non-discrimination protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.
The decision was made at the last minute at the behest of Abbott, who cited objections to the non-discrimination policy claiming the protections went beyond state policy on social work.
If that policy had been allowed to remain in effect, social workers in Texas — at least at the state level — are now allowed to reject patients based solely on being LGBT or having a disability, a situation advocates for those communities say places already vulnerable communities at greater risk.
In addition to restoring the protections on Tuesday, the board also voted to seek an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office about the legality of its rule change, although the board has previously indicated that Paxton’s office would likely oppose explicit protections for LGBT people and people with disabilities, according to the Tribune.