Anti-Christian Policy Approved by State Health Council, Gov. Abbott’s Request Ignored

Today, the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council (BHEC) shocked observers and the public by ignoring a directive from Gov. Greg Abbott and reversing its decision from two weeks on a controversial LGBT issue. BHEC  reversed its previous unanimous decision (a decision that appears to have been made in conjunction with the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners (Social Work Board))  to remove the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”  (SOGI) from the social workers’ code of conduct in order to be consistent with state and federal law.

Today’s decision was made after several LGBT advocates called upon the BHEC and the Social Work Board to go against state and federal law by adding “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the code of conduct.  Gov. Greg Abbott’s office has made it clear that such action is inconsistent with state law and cannot stand. These types of SOGI policies are often used to punish Christians.

Even more shocking was that BHEC executive director Darrell Spinks appears to have been engaging in  deliberate obstruction of the updated policy (that removed the unauthorized LGBT language) that had already been voted by the BHEC and the Social Work Board two weeks ago.

The Texas Values team testified at the meeting asking the board to follow the Governor’s guidance to make the code of conduct consistent with state and federal law by removing “sexual orientation” and “gender identity”. The board’s decision puts many Christian counselors and social workers at risk of having to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs for fear of losing their licenses and livelihoods.

“This illegitimate vote by the Behavioral Health Executive Council and obstruction by bureaucrat Darrell Spinks is the most egregious attempt to advance LGBT policy that I have seen in quite some time. Apparently, the LGBT strategy this time is, if you can’t win, cheat. This issue is far from over,” said Jonathan Saenz, President of Texas Values.

Early in the meeting, BHEC voted unanimously to retain sexual orientation and gender identity language based on a recommendation from BHEC’s executive director, Darrel Spinks, with the caveat that they would seek a legal opinion from the Texas Attorney General’s office to receive clarification of their rulemaking authority.  Spinks explained this motion was possible because he had not yet sent the language from the board’s Oct. 12th decision for publication in the Texas Register but had held it in his “back pocket.”

Public comment was scheduled as the last agenda item. However, House LGBTQ caucus founder Jessica Gonzalez and “Ban the Bible Bill” author Texas Senator Jose Menendez were allowed to give special invited testimony. Board members apologized for their decision at the October 12th, meeting after they claimed they received death threats and outrage from the LGBT community.

The council did not allow public comment before voting on the language, sending a clear message that their decision was already made.

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