This Week in Trans News: Texas Relents on LGBTQ Social Work Protections
Two weeks after dropping language protecting LGBTQ patients from discrimination in its code of conduct, the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners reversed course, unanimously voting to reinstate protections.
The reversal came after 24,000 people had signed a petition organized by the Texas chapter of the National Association of Social Workers opposing the state board’s rollback of patient protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
On Tuesday, the chapter applauded the board’s decision to reconsider. “This was a big win today for advocacy, the board and for nondiscrimination,” the association’s executive director, Will Francis, told NBC News. “But this is still Texas, and there are not underlying protections for LGBTQ persons. So had these nondiscrimination protections been stripped away, that really would have left people vulnerable, so we need legislation that ensures that there is protection.”
The board’s initial October 13 decision to drop the protections language came after Texas Governor Greg Abbott said the code of conduct didn’t match state guidelines on the matter. Abbott himself has long opposed queer and trans rights, involving himself in a private custody dispute between a parent who supported a trans child’s transition and a parent who didn’t. He’s also been a longtime proponent of trans bathroom bills in the state.
According to the NBC News report, however, there’s a possibility the protections could be watered down still. The state board also voted to have state Attorney General Ken Paxton give an opinion on the code of conduct.
Paxton has been a longtime opponent of LGBTQ rights. Last year, he joined 14 other state attorneys general on an amicus brief in a Supreme Court case opposing LGBTQ employment protections. In June 2015, Paxton called the decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark case making marriage equality the law of the land, a “lawless ruling.”
With just a week until the election in a traditionally red state trending blue with a deadly pandemic ravaging the state, it’s curious that Texas Republicans continue to focus on marginalizing LGBTQ people. It seems the state’s conservatives are creatures of habit, not really concerned with governing but instead focused on their own pet obsessions. That could end up costing them in this Tuesday’s election.