Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam Signs 'Religious Freedom' Bill Allowing Counselors to Deny Service to LGBT People

  • metta

    Posts: 44483

    Apr 27, 2016 9:38 PM GMT
    Governor Signs 'Religious Freedom' Bill Allowing Counselors to Deny Service to LGBT People

    Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam has just signed into law HB 1840, a bill that allows counselors, therapists, and mental health professionals to refuse service to LGBT people, atheists, divorced people, literally anyone, merely by claiming their "sincerely held religious beliefs" allow them to.

    Technically, the counselor must refer the patient to another counselor, but given that one quarter of Tennessee residents live in rural areas, LGBTQ youth and teens who are especially vulnerable, and unable to travel without their parents, will be at higher risk of possible self-harm.

  • Apparition

    Posts: 4054

    Apr 30, 2016 11:46 AM GMT
    Will be interesting when someone using a service , eg court, gets to decide the judge, who the defendant is paying for, can be disqualified on religious grounds. Including supreme. Haha
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    Apr 30, 2016 3:15 PM GMT

    ...licensing requires the candidate to hold a doctorate in psychology and have completed an internship/practicum of at least one year consisting of 1,900 hours of practice approved by the American Psychological Association, the Association of Psychological Post-Doctoral and Internship Centers, or the equivalent.

    So does "the American Psychological Association, the Association of Psychological Post-Doctoral and Internship Centers, or the equivalent" approve of members practicing state-sanctioned discrimination or can their licenses be pulled by the state's own rules of licensure?
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    Apr 30, 2016 3:46 PM GMT
    This from 2015...

    Laws that allow people to opt out of activities that conflict with their religious beliefs date to the Civil War era, when conscientious objector status allowed men to refuse to participate in military service. But conscience clauses have only moved into the mental health arena in recent years (see "Further reading" below).

    In 2011, for example, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a university's decision to expel a counseling student for failing to adhere to the profession's ethics code, rejecting the student's claim that counseling LGBT patients violated her rights to religious freedom and free speech. In 2012, on the other hand, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit remanded to the district court a case involving another student expelled from a counseling program for refusing to serve a gay client, asking that court to determine if religious discrimination had occurred and prompting the program to settle with the student.

    In 2011, Arizona enacted a law preventing psychology, counseling and social work programs from taking action against students whose religious beliefs run counter to serving certain clients, as long as they consult with supervisors about how to avoid harming those clients. Legislators in two other states — Michigan and Tennessee — have proposed similar legislation.

    APA opposes such laws, says Forrest.

    "Our position is that the training of psychologists requires that students become competent to deal with a wide cross section of future client populations and that trainees are not in the position of dictating which populations they will or will not see," she says. "Those responsibilities rest with the faculty and supervisors of professional psychology training programs."

    ...Attaining competence to work with a diverse public isn't optional, says Forrest, explaining that students can't simply opt out of training they don't agree with. While there may be times when reassigning a client to a different trainee would be best for the client, that's a decision for the trainer — not the trainee — to make. Students who can't or won't attain competence in serving all clients will be placed on remediation. If that fails, the student may be dismissed...

    ...Earlier this year, legislation was introduced in Virginia's General Assembly that would have exempted psychologists and anyone else with a government-issued license, certificate or registration from any disciplinary action arising out of a refusal to provide services that licensees said would violate their religious or moral convictions surrounding homosexual behavior or same-sex marriage.

    "We don't use the term ‘conscience clause,'" says Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, JD, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the public member of APA's Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest. "We call these bills ‘licenses to discriminate.'"

    Of course, practicing psychologists — especially those in independent practice settings — can make decisions about which patients they will or will not serve, says Antonette Zeiss, PhD, who represents APA's Board of Professional Affairs (BPA) on what is now the joint Board of Educational Affairs/BPA working group. In some cases, psychologists may opt out of treating people because they lack the competence needed; in other cases, they may have personal beliefs that keep them from being the most appropriate choice.

    But, the working group emphasizes, practicing psychologists should engage in personal introspection, training, supervision and consultation to help them integrate their personal beliefs with their ability to provide competent care. The goal should be developing competence rather than "escaping from uncomfortable situations," says Forrest.

    ...Practitioners should also be aware that they could face claims of discrimination if they're always referring a certain group of would-be patients based on some aspect of their identity that makes them uncomfortable or challenges their personal beliefs, she says, pointing out that APA's Ethics Code forbids unfair discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation and other factors.

    To guide practitioners through that process, the working group is developing a statement similar to its pedagogical statement. In addition to addressing private practice, the statement will cover the responsibilities of psychologists working in Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, university counseling centers and other institutional settings where they are hired to serve a diverse population. "Institutions can't afford to let their psychologists pick and choose which clients they will see or not see based on their personal beliefs," says Forrest. "It could create organizational nightmares and would be counter to a mission to provide compassionate care to all."