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For Immediate Release: Statement on the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council Reversing Course
Posted on October 27, 2020 at 3:17 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               

Angela Hale, Equality Texas, 512.289.2995 angela.hale@equalitytexas.org

Equality Texas Releases Statement from CEO Ricardo Martinez on the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council Reversing Course on the Decision to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Texans.

Austin, Texas – October 27, 2020 Equality Texas, the largest statewide organization solely dedicated to securing full equality for LGBTQ Texans, today released a statement from CEO Ricardo Martinez on the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council’s decision to reverse rules that allow social workers to discriminate against LGBTQ Texans and people with disabilities.

“Today, after ​overwhelming public pressure, the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council (BHEC) voted unanimously to restore protections for LGBTQ and disabled clients in the Social Workers Code of Conduct. We are grateful for the prompt response to community concerns. BHEC Chair Gloria Canseco expressed regret for the previous rule change, stating that she does not want the Council’s actions on October 12 to be “perceived as hostile to the LGBTQ+ community or to disabled persons.” We can attest that the October 12 vote and rule change did great harm to the mental health and wellbeing of many LGBTQ and disabled people across Texas. 

A good faith analysis of this issue affirms what is clearly written into state statute: the BHEC has the power to set ethical standards for licensed social workers. The Texas Occupations Code states that the BHEC has the powers and duties to “establish standards of conduct and ethics for license holders.” 

Despite the clarity of the state statute, the BHEC also voted today to seek a non-binding legal opinion on this matter from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office. If the BHEC wants to protect vulnerable people from further harm, we suggest that the Council reconsider seeking and legitimizing an opinion from an attorney general who has built his career in part on promoting discrimination against LGBTQ+ Texans. 

As Senator José Menéndez so powerfully testified to the BHEC today, sometimes leadership can be a lonely place, and it can require courage. We hope the Council can take a courageous stand to do what is right by its clients, right by social workers, right by vulnerable Texans, and right by the powers clearly assigned to it in Texas statute. 

Finally, the Legislature can and should remove all doubt on this matter by finally doing what the vast majority of Texans support: passing a comprehensive nondiscrimination law in 2021 to make it clear that no one should be discriminated against because of who they are or who they love.”

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Equality Texas is the largest statewide organization working to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. The Equality Texas Foundation works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Texans through education, community organizing, and collaboration.