Tennessee Republicans Say Therapists Shouldn't Have to Help Gay People

A new bill gives students learning to become counselors the ability to object to helping LGBT patients on religious grounds.

BY Lucas Grindley

March 07 2013 4:44 PM ET

From the people who brought us the "Don't Say Gay" bill in Tennessee, a new law has passed through a Senate committee this week that legalizes some discrimination.

Nashville Scene reports that the Senate Education Committee voted by party lines, 7-2, to approve a bill backed by Republican Sens. Joey Hensley and Stacey Campfield that would allow university graduate students in psychology to opt out of having to counsel LGBT patients — who he argues should actually be offered so-called reparative therapy.

Nashville Scene notes that refusing to counsel gay people is a violation of the American Psychological Association's code of ethics. It should also be noted that the association considers ex-gay therapy harmful and dangerous.

During a hearing on the bill, fellow state senator Rusty Crowe reportedly said LGBT patients should be told they're "doing wrong" and therapists should "try to counsel them to do what's right."

Nashville Public Radio reports that the bill could be voted on by the full Senate next week.

A recent case out of Michigan may have inspired the bill. Eastern Michigan University counseling student Julea Ward refused to see a gay patient and was subsequently kicked out of the master's program in 2012. Then the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill in her honor that bans any disciplinary action for students who object to helping gay people because of their religious beliefs. The bill, though, never made its way through Michigan's Senate.

Tags: Politics

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