July 2, 2022 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Tennessee’s “Therapist’s religious protections” is a new twist in madness

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Dan Howell of Tennessee
The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Dan Howell of Bradley, Polk and Meigs Counties in Tennessee.

BY STAFF  |  Tennessee’s House of Representatives has passed a bill that allows counselors and therapists — you know, the kind who claim queers are possessed of Satan and that they should burn in hell along with women who are considering an abortion or want to divorce their abusive husband —  to refuse to treat patients who live lives they don’t approve of.

Some have said “who would want such a therapist?  Maybe this is a good thing.” But this is no joking matter.

It’s quite obvious that the bill is not about the protection of any legitimate therapeutic interest — such government lawmaking does not facilitate better alignment of therapist-patient values. But it’s much more than just bad lawmaking.

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.  

The bill is part of a wave of bills across the country proposed by conservative Christian lawmakers who are upset about the Supreme Court decision last year that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

There are many intended victims of this bill and chief among them are Tennessee’s LGBT school age youth.  Counselors, if the bill becomes law, will legally be able to refuse to treat or help LGBT youth, potentially endangering their lives and thereby super-empowering bullies.

Oleetha Waters of Boiling Springs, Tennessee said the bill just makes legal what is already happening.  “I took my 13 year old son to a counselor recommended by our pastor.  It went off the rails from there.  The counselor spent 10 minutes with my son and asked him to leave.  The pastor called me the next day and said my son was possessed by a homosexual demon,” she said. “We left that church and 10 years later our son is out, gay and proud in our little town…and so are we.”

Though the bill maintains it does not impeded on counselors or therapists who work in a public setting, that distinction, at least in public schools, is moot.  Republican’s have eviscerated the state’s school system and have turned many functions over to private contractors, including student counseling.

Tennessee therapists, if the bill is signed by the state’s governor, will be legally able to reject patients who have “goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held principles of the counselors or therapist.”  Tennessee would be the first state to allow therapists to pick what kind of clients they’re willing to serve.

Implementation of the bill would endanger the lives of all vulnerable people seeking counseling.

“For people seeking counseling because they are faced with a critical dilemma in their lives and need objective guidance, allowing mental-health professionals to discriminate could cause grave damage,” the ACLU of Tennessee warns. “Many who need care already face significant barriers, including trauma, marginalization, and a historic distrust of mental-health providers. For some — like a woman who wants to escape her abusive spouse or a gay teen being bullied, for example — this bill could affect their very survival.”

The bill would not allow counselors to turn away people who are in imminent danger of harming themselves or others.

Supporters of the legislation claim that the ACA’s ethics code is an infringement on mental-health professionals’ right to freedom of religion.

Representative Dan Howell told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that the association had “overstepped their authority and elevated their code above the First amendment and that’s why we’re here today.”

The bill’s passage comes one day after Mississippi enacted a law allowing businesses to deny services to LGBT people. Mississippi’s law also declares gender is “determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth,” and that business owners are free to demand a birth certificate before allowing a person they think might be transgender to use their bathroom.

Tennessee’s bill is narrower than bills in other states and does not impede LGBT access to public services or allow business owners to refuse service.  It also does not preclude cities from implementing LGBT protections.

Tennessee is considering anti-transgender legislation related to school bathrooms, and civil rights groups are watching a Missouri measure seen as discriminatory.

in NEWS
Related Posts

Dyke Day LA Draws 1,500+ ‘Dykes of All Genders’

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

June 11 event draws NY Times coverage By Susan Payne More than 1,500 people descended on Sycamore Grove Park for...

Catalina Island’s Inaugural Pride Celebration Sees Youthful Turnout

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

June 18 event draws hundreds of locals and visitors to island By Susan Payne Avalon, a small town of nearly...

Pride Moment Comes Full Circle for LGBTQ+ Advocate

June 30, 2022

June 30, 2022

Boys & Girls Club holds second annual Gabriel Valley Pride March By Susan Payne The Boys & Girls Clubs of...

Santa Monica’s Building Bridges Art Exchange Presents: J.J. Martin’s “Role Models”

June 28, 2022

June 28, 2022

A traveling exhibit in partnership with Indianilla Cultural Center, Mexico City and Real de Catorce Cultural Center, Real de Catorce,...

Los Angeles Frenchie Reaches Record Age Milestone for Its Breed, Surpassing Recent Life Expectancy Report by Three Fold

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Learn about Rocco the French bulldog  By Susan Payne Native to Brazil, Rocco the French bulldog has reached an age...

44 Years Later, MLB’s First Openly Gay Player Glenn Burke Now Celebrated by Dodgers

June 23, 2022

June 23, 2022

Glenn Burke celebrated at Dodgers Pride night By Susan Payne The Los Angeles Dodgers’ ninth annual LGBTQ+ Pride Night celebrated...

The Book Jewel Celebrates Pride Month as a Community

June 22, 2022

June 22, 2022

Westchester bookstore hosting series of events this month The Book Jewel in Westchester is hosting several events this month that...

A Staple Tamales Vendor’s Truck Was Stolen. Friends of the Vendor Are Asking for LGBTQ+ Support to Bring Back Her Only Source of Income

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

By Susan Payne For nearly 16 years, a 52-year-old single mother of two has been serving the Los Angeles LGBTQ+...

LGBT Center Welcomes Incoming CEO Joe Hollendoner

June 17, 2022

June 17, 2022

By Susan Payne In an in-person sustaining donor event last November, longtime Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean for the...

Culver City Pride Ride and Rally Around the Corner

June 14, 2022

June 14, 2022

Sunday, June 26, 2022, 9 AM Pride Ride | 11 AM Rally Culver City’s second ever Pride celebration is set...

Police: Catholic High School Football Players Sexually Assault New Student

June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

By Susan Payne Months of controversy over an alleged hazing scandal at a private high school in Santa Ana have...

Media Matters: Anti-Trans Violence Increases as TV News Coverage Drops 20%

June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

By Susan Payne A report released by Media Matters’ LGBTQ Program found that national cable and corporate broadcast TV networks...

Oil Can Harry’s Named Historic-Cultural Monument

June 10, 2022

June 10, 2022

By Susan Payne For its historic and social significance to San Fernando Valley and the LGBTQ+ community, Oil Can Harry’s...

Music of Queen Preformed by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles at Fairmont Century Plaza

June 7, 2022

June 7, 2022

Free event June 18th at 7p.m. To celebrate PRIDE the Fairmont Century Plaza located will host an incredible performance by...