JFS Austin, JFS Dallas, JFS Houston and JFS San Antonio join together with the full membership of the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies in strong opposition to the recent unanimous decision of the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners to change a section of their Code of Conduct that establishes when a social worker may refuse to provide service. The change to the code allows a Texas licensed social worker to refuse to provide mental health or other support services to clients on the basis of the client’s disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. This change, recommended by Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s office, is in keeping with a Texas State law passed last year which gave the governor’s office more control over rules governing state-licensed professions.
This change challenges the values that guide social workers everywhere and is in direct violation of the universally accepted ethics of the field of social work that demand equal access for all who are seeking mental health and related support services. Coming at a time when Texas is continuing to struggle with the profound and lasting impact of the global pandemic, this change creates unnecessary challenges in accessing much needed social work services and furthermore it sends a message that persons with disabilities and members of the LGBTQI communities are “less than” and not worthy of the array of supportive services provided by social workers that are available to others. Our Network, drawing on Jewish values and values of all faith traditions, affirms the understanding that all people are created in God’s image and remains committed to ensuring that the practice of discrimination is not legitimized. We urge the Texas State Board and Governor Abbott’s office to consider the messages of a policy change that is in direct conflict with standards of clinical service delivery, the founding principles of our nation and the moral imperative to serve all who are in need.
Judy Halper, Board Chair
Reuben Rotman, President & CEO, Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies
Abby Rapoport, Shalom Austin Board Chair & Kim Schocket, JFS Committee Chair
Rabbi Amy Cohen, Executive Director, Shalom Austin Jewish Family Service
Julie Liberman, Board President
Cathy Barker, CEO, Jewish Family Service of Dallas
Philip Tenenbaum, Board President
Linda Burger, CEO, Jewish Family Service of Houston
Carrie Price, Chair
Talli Dolge, CEO, Jewish Family Service of San Antonio