NASW opposes legislation introduced across the nation that denies equitable access to health care and services for people who hold any LGBTQIA2S+ identities.
The association issued a news release that notes more than 300 anti-LGBTQIA2S+ bills have been introduced in 37 states, including legislation that would stop gender-affirming health care for people who are transgender, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Other legislation would roll back existing legal protections for people who are LGBTQIA2S+, and would prevent people from using the bathroom for the gender they identify with, if different from the gender assigned at birth.
NASW is taking action to push back against misinformed and discriminatory legislation that focuses on people who identify as LGBTQIA2S+. Some examples include:
The NASW Indiana Chapter has testified against legislation and shared advocacy alerts on SB 480, a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for anyone under the age of 18. The bill has passed both chambers and has been sent to the governor for final action.
“We don’t provide just mental health care for other conditions, and we should not for this one. These youth need more,” said licensed clinical social worker Dr. Richard Brandon Friedman, LCSW, who testified on behalf of the NASW Indiana Chapter, and as the chair of the NASW-Indiana Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Committee.
The Texas Senate is considering legislation that would ban gender-affirming care for youth. Evelyn Smith, a member of the NASW Texas Chapter, testified in opposition to the legislation.
“Research has consistently found that access to this medical care reduces the rates of suicide ideation and attempts in trans and nonbinary youth,” she said.
Marc Herstand, executive director of the NASW Wisconsin Chapter, testified in opposition to efforts by state Republicans to stop a ban on conversion therapy, which has long been found to damage the mental health of people who are LGBTQIA2S+. The conversion therapy ban “is necessary to protect the mental health of children in our state,” Herstand said.
The NASW Ohio Chapter opposes legislation that would require schools to notify parents before teaching students about “sexually explicit content” or offering health care services to children. The chapter said privacy is needed because many children who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ are rejected by their families.
The NASW Ohio Chapter is also fighting HB 68, legislation that would prohibit gender-affirming care for youth—with threat of disciplinary action on social workers’ licenses for simply providing the ethical, best-practice standard of care.
The behavioral health field is already struggling to maintain an adequate number of staff, and adding additional regulation as well as the threat of discipline will only lead to even more of a decrease in social workers in the field, NASW Ohio Chapter Executive Director Danielle Smith said. Furthermore, adding more regulations will make it more difficult for providers to accept minors in their practice, making necessary and life-saving care less accessible to all youth, Smith said.
NASW Kentucky Chapter Executive Director Brenda Rosen gave multiple testimonies against egregious anti-LGBTQIA2S+ bills that attack Kentucky youth who identify as transgender and said she is disgusted by the political overreach and hateful rhetoric from extremist legislators who lied to voters about gender-affirming care in order to keep their elected positions.
“These legislators ignored and even laughed at the grieving mother and fellow senator, Dr. Karen Berg, who spoke the truth and honored her son, Henry, an extraordinary voice of the trans community who died by suicide in December, as she pleaded with legislators to listen to the medical and mental health experts regarding gender-affirming care,” Rosen said.
Kentucky’s anti-transgender bill SB150 is the most devastating assault on our LGBTQIA2S+ citizens in the country, she said. The ACLU has already filed numerous challenges to the bill.
The NASW North Dakota Chapter, in partnership with the LGBTQIA+ community and allies, stopped a bill in the 2023 legislative session that would make conversion therapy ethical in North Dakota social work law.
NASW North Dakota Executive Director Kristin Rubbelke said, “This was a crucial stop to a bill that would have been detrimental for social workers, clients, and the dignity of the LGBTQIA2S+ community in North Dakota.”