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New Rule Allows Texas Social Workers to Turn Away People With Disabilities

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What happened: Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners unanimously voted on Monday to change a section of its code of conduct that protected disabled people from being turned away for services by social workers. This change also allows social workers to turn away clients on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Texas Tribune reported that Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office recommended the change because “the code’s nondiscrimination protections went beyond protections laid out in the state law that governs how and when the state may discipline social workers.” Social workers in the state like Steven Parks have criticized the change.

There’s now a gray area between what’s legally allowed and ethically responsible. The law should never allow a social worker to legally do unethical things. — Steven Parks

The Frontlines: Many disabled people have to go through hoops in order to get adequate services, and social workers can often help their disabled clients find housing, make lifestyle adjustments and get proper health treatment along with provide mental health services.

  • According to the National Association of Social Workers, there are around 16 types of social workers. Social workers that specialize in helping people with developmental disabilities help clients and families learn their legal rights and find services to help them become independent.
  • The Health Resources & Services Administration identified more than 100 Texas counties that already have a social worker shortage.
  • The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council will revisit complaints about this decision at its Oct. 27 meeting.

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A Mighty Voice: Even when there are laws to protect people with disabilities, discrimination still happens. Mighty contributor Grace Robinson wrote about why people are still dehumanized even 30 years after the American with Disabilities Act was passed.

“I have learned that being disabled in America often makes you a second-class citizen. We are told to be grateful and to stop complaining when scraps are thrown our way. The programs we rely on are constantly on the chopping block, putting our lives at risk. The threat of our insurance being taken away is something we have to take seriously, because without insurance, we will die! We are constantly called ‘lazy,’ ‘free-loaders’ and ‘parasites,’ when we are just doing the best we can.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

From Our Community:

Does anyone with agoraphobia have a social worker or support worker?

Other Things to Know: Over the past several years, both federal and local governments have made decisions that make it difficult for people with disabilities to get access to care and the help that they need. Read these stories below to stay up to date on decisions that have harmed the disability community:

How to Take Action: You can sign a petition on to support the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers who oppose the executive board’s decision to permit discrimination against disabled and queer people.

Image via Getty Images/CrackerClips

Originally published: October 16, 2020
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