Target: Governor Bill Haslam
Goal: Protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination when seeking mental healthcare.
It could soon be made legal for mental health care professionals to refuse treatment services for LGBTQ individuals in Tennessee. A law passed by the Tennessee legislature allows counselors to turn away anybody whose lifestyle choices or beliefs conflict with their own, setting a dangerous precedent for legally sanctioned discrimination. Tennessee’s Senate and House members have already passed the bill, but Governor Bill Haslam has not yet officially signed it into law. This petition will serve to urge the Governor to veto this misguided piece of legislation.
The American Counseling Association (ACA) already has clear standards set in place to prevent counselors from imposing their personal convictions on their patients. However, this bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Dan Howell, has stated that the purpose of his legislation is to safeguard the First Amendment from the ACA’s code of ethics.
This reasoning amounts to nothing more than a false pretense. A counselor is perfectly capable of maintaining their religious beliefs without imposing them on another individual. Moreover, it is unfair to require a patient to meet the moral standards of their counselor. Everyone deserves access to proper mental health care, no matter their lifestyle choices.
Those who passed this piece of legislation in Tennessee have made a terrible decision with far-reaching effects. Allowing mental health professionals to turn away patients in need because of conflicting values is, simply put, a form of legally sanctioned discrimination. Racism, sexism, and other blatant forms of discrimination would also be enabled by this bill.
Governor Haslam must protect the rights of LGBTQ individuals, as well as the rights of mental health patients in general, by refusing to sign this piece of legislation. By signing the petition below, you can help urge Governor Bill Haslam to refrain from signing this bill.
Dear Governor Bill Haslam,
A piece of legislation was recently passed in your state which would make it legal for mental health care professionals to turn away LGBTQ patients. Despite attempts by the bill’s chief sponsor and others to frame this as a move to protect the First Amendment, their reasoning does not hold water.
Counselors do not need to rescind their beliefs in order to treat someone who does not hold those same beliefs. Furthermore, it is ridiculous to require a patient to meet the moral standards of their counselor. All individuals should have access to the mental health care they need, regardless of the varying lifestyles or convictions of both counselors and patients
I urge you to protect LGBTQ individuals from discrimination in your state by refusing to sign this piece of legislation.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: William Murphy