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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Opinion

Social workers should not be allowed to discriminate


Recently, the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners voted to change its code of conduct, removing protections for disability, sexual orientation and gender identity following Gov. Greg Abbott’s recommendation. This would allow social workers to turn away people based on these characteristics.

It’s ironic that they would remove protections for people who are already disenfranchised and allow them to be even more disenfranchised by making it harder to find social workers to help them. This decision should be reversed.

According to Abbott’s office, the nondiscrimination clause went further than Texas’s state law, which was why he suggested it. While this may be true, we need to look at who this change affects to see why it is wrong. 

This change obviously affects transgender people, queer people and disabled people. People who already face challenges in their lives due to being minorities and disenfranchised. 

LGBTQ people put off medical treatment because of discrimination in health care accessibility. Now, they may be discriminated against by the same people who are supposed to be advocating for them. 

Many queer people also live in poverty and there’s a higher likelihood of LGBTQ youth being homeless. In fact, about 35 percent of LGBTQ Texans between the ages of 18-44 were living in poverty in 2017. 

Disabled people are also often in poverty. In fact, they are twice as likely to be poor than someone without a disability. They often have medical costs involved with their disability that is also a factor in their poverty.  

Disabled people have an income limit of about $2,000 per month to be able to get Social Security disability benefits. They are forced to be low income in order to receive aid. 

Disability, gender identity and sexuality are things we cannot choose as people, so it’s horrible for people to be discriminated against for them. The reality is many of these people are discriminated against and disenfranchised for their labels. 

Now, social workers — the people who are supposed to help people out of bad situations often caused by discrimination — have the power to discriminate and cause these people to be even more disenfranchised.

People may say that it’s freedom of religion for people to discriminate. Even if it is, it doesn’t make it right. If they didn’t want to help people, they should not have become a social worker. If they refuse to do social work for someone, they are blatantly refusing to do their job.

There’s also the fact that social workers refusing LGBTQ and disabled people will actively put them in harm’s way. By making it harder for disenfranchised people to receive help, they will likely have more trouble getting out of the bad situations that made them need a social worker in the first place.

This decision by the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners is going to be very harmful to marginalized communities in Texas. Whether a nondiscrimination clause goes beyond state law or not should be irrelevant because it is simply wrong to discriminate based on gender identity, sexuality or disability. 

We shouldn’t allow our state to become more lenient when it comes to discrimination. We have to be staunchly active against it so that marginalized people can get the help and support they need.

Anna Baker is an English junior who can be reached at [email protected]

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