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Friday, April 8, 2016

Tennessee Lawmakers Pass Bill Permitting Mental Health Professionals to Discriminate

By Eric Levitz
New York Magazine
Originally posted April 6, 2016

Tennessee's House of Representatives just passed a bill that would allow therapists who believe homosexuality is the mark of Satan to refuse to treat gay clients. More precisely, the bill allows mental-health counselors to deny treatment to anyone who seeks help with "goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held principles of the counselors or therapist." If the bill makes it into law, Tennessee would be the first state to allow therapists to pick what kind of clients they're willing to serve.

From a certain angle, the law may appear more significant on a symbolic level than a practical one: If you're a gay teenager looking for someone to counsel you through your first same-sex relationship, it's probably in your interest to see someone who doesn't think that relationship will bring you eternal hellfire. But what's really at stake in the legislation is what the ethical code for licensed mental-health professionals in the United States will entail. The bill was drafted in reaction to the American Counseling Association's 2014 code of ethics, which warned counselors not to impose their personal values onto their clients. Tennessee's bill would allow the state's mental-health professionals to reject clients — for failing to conform to their beliefs — without losing their licenses.

The article is here.