When Indiana Governor Pence signed the RFRA/religious refusal/license to discriminate bill, suddenly everyone in the country knew about it.
We've got a mini-version in Tennessee that not many people know about--the Counseling Discrimination bill. And it's up for a key test on Wednesday.
HB566 would allow students in counseling, psychology, and social work to turn away clients based on the student's sincerely held religious beliefs. Sound familiar? It should. It is exactly the kind of language used in the bigger RFRA/Turn the Gays Away bills.
IMPACT OF THE BILL: This bill is bad news, even though the damage would not be as extensive. It could jeopardize the accreditation and hence the value and marketability of our counseling, psychology, and social work degree programs in Tennessee. It represents bad education because students won't be exposed to the full range of clients. And it's bad for clients because it adds stigma at a time when they are seeking help.
WEDNESDAY IS KEY: The bill is up on Wednesday, April 1, in what we believe really is the final meeting of a House subcommittee. It is number 23 on the calendar. We've heard they've reserved the room for the whole afternoon starting at Noon, which indicates they plan to go through the entire list of bills up for consideration.
STOP THE BILL: We need to stop the bill in this subcommittee. What can we do?
1. Email the subcommittee and members of the full committee and ask them to vote NO. Use this link.
2. Call the members of the full committee and leave them messages asking them to vote NO.
3. Consider attending the subcommittee meeting at Noon on Wednesday in Legislative Plaza Room 31. Wear purple if you can.
4. Fuel the fight. Consider a monthly donation to TEP.
We are grateful for all your support and your efforts to defeat the bill.