SWHPN Statement on Changes to Social Work Code of Conduct in Texas

On Monday, October 12, the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners changed the section of its code of conduct that establishes when a social worker may or may not deny services, to remove previous language specifying that discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity constitutes a violation of the code of conduct for Social Workers in Texas. The removal of these specifications puts the Texas code of conduct in contrast with existing social work principles, ethical guidelines for practice, and federal anti-discrimination mandates by allowing for discrimination based on disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity. 

The Social Work Hospice and Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) is horrified and dismayed by these changes, and condemns them in the strongest terms possible. This action explicitly violates the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics Section 4.02:

Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical ability.

We stand with social work professionals, organizations, academics, researchers, and patients and families across the country to protest these recent legal changes requiring social workers to choose between ethical and legal practice.

As social workers in hospice and palliative care, we are also gravely concerned about the needs of LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities that may already be experiencing social disparities, living in marginalized communities, or having trouble accessing health care, palliative care and/or hospice services. Our goal is always to ensure competent and compassionate care during serious illness and at end of life, regardless of disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Further, we remain concerned about the short- and long-term effects such policy changes will have on increasing people’s risk for depression, anxiety, and suicide risk.

Finally, we advocate for all social workers to vote and elect representatives who will not ask social workers - or anyone - to discriminate against any patients that are seeking care.

For those that wish to sign the petition demanding Texas Governor Abbott rescind this policy, please click here.

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Comments on "SWHPN Statement on Changes to Social Work Code of Conduct in Texas"

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Mary Beth Callahan - Friday, October 23, 2020
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Thank you. This will be linked on the NASW TX website. As noted above, please sign the petition. Mary Beth Callahan, APHSW-C, ACSW/LCSW, Dallas, TX

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