In a misguided and unethical step to foster discrimination against the LGBTQ community, the Tennessee General Assembly has presented a bill to allow therapists and counselors to reject providing care for patients that would violate “(therapist) principles” which, as of now, remain undefined. This bill comes on the heels of the recently passed North Carolina law that prohibits transgendered individuals from using a bathroom that does not correspond with their gender at birth. Both proposed initiatives have the common strand of discrimination.
While discussions have largely ranged from the financial implications of such laws, to the slippery slope that permitting practitioners to discriminate against any person based on race, sex and origin in medical and psychiatric need, the heart of the matter remains the access to services based on sexual or gender preference. “It is abhorrent to think that any steps would be taken to reduce or limit LGBTQ youth access to mental health services. We know that LGBTQ Americans are at higher risk for mental health issues, including suicide, depression and addiction than other demographics in this country” says Paradigm therapist, LGBTQ expert and Prism Institute co-founder Andrew Oldershaw. Statistically, LGBT children and teens are four times more likely to attempt suicide and questioning youth are three times more likely to succeed in their attempt. Andrew believes that “this is, in large part, because of ongoing trauma that members of the LGBTQ community experience in their day to day lives. That trauma is fueled by the same attitudes that have resulted in the creation of this legislation.”
Such discriminatory behavior generally comes out of fear or the unknown and finding effective ways to discuss and educate is an integral step in advocacy and equal rights for access to care. “Any therapist that denies a client services based on sexual orientation is in violation of their oath and American Psychological Association practice guidelines. APA approved, evidence-based treatment must be provided regardless of political agendas” reports Dr. Jeff Nalin, Paradigm’s co-founder and executive director. “Any American wanting or needing support around gender or sexual identity should have the right to a private, authentic relationship with a therapist or counselor. There is no place for the Big Brother agenda of the Tennesseee’s legislators in this equation.”
In addition to supporting compassionate treatment for all individuals regardless of race, origin or sexual orientation, Paradigm Treatment strongly denounces the Tennessee bill allowing therapists to discriminate. We have organized a set of resources for educators, professionals and the community to raise awareness, refine and improve standards of practice and perpetuate the belief that access to quality psychiatric and medical care is a universal and unwavering right. If you have resources that would be helpful to add, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our contact page by clicking here.
Facilitating discussions about suicide within the LGBTQ community:
The Model School District Policy on suicide prevention:
Helping families support their LGBT children:
Guidelines for suicide prevention for LGBT youth:
“Families Are Forever” LGBT documentary and discussion guide “Supportive Families, Healthy Children” (A best practice resource for suicide prevention):
Agency assessment tool for LGBT cultural competence:
Federal recommendations, guidelines and statistics for parents and educators of LGBT youth around bullying and violence:
Parent resources for LGBTQ children:
Mental health care information for the LGBTQ community: