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29
Jun

Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act & The Code of Ethics

by Rachel L. West, MSW, LMSW
The Political Social Worker

Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act

I was reading this article when I came across this bit about the Julea Ward case:

Earlier this month, Michigan’s House passed a “Julea Ward Freedom of Conscience Act,” which forbids public colleges and universities from discriminating against or disciplining students participating in counseling, social work and psychology programs “because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the student, if the student refers the client to a counselor who will provide the counseling or services.”

Really? I can not speak for counseling or APA code of ethics, but this is certainly in direct conflict with the Social Work Code of Ethics.  For example:

1.05 Cultural Competence and Social Diversity

(c) Social workers should obtain education about and seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, and mental or physical disability.

And

4.02 Discrimination

Social workers should not practice, condone, facilitate, or collaborate with any form of discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national
origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.

And

6.04 Social and Political Action

(d) Social workers should act to prevent and eliminate domination of, exploitation of, and discrimination against any person, group, or class on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, marital status, political belief, religion, immigration status, or mental or physical disability.

If you can not work with a client for reasons based solely on their gender, gender expression, race, ethnicity, religion, political belief, sexual orientation, or economic status; then you shouldn’t be working in this field.

Photo Credit: By Léna (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/ce/Flag_LGBT_pride_Toulouse.jpg

Posted by Rachel L. West

In addition to being the founder of The Political Social Worker blog, I am a consultant. My consulting practice offers advocacy and community outreach solutions to nonprofits, social good organizations, and private practitioners. Additionally, I offer career coaching to macro social work students and professionals.

One comment

  1. Many social workers discriminate against poor people every day. It’s called private practice, which basically shuts out poor people who can’t afford to pay $125 an hour to see a social worker or therapist. How are Julea Ward’s actions any worse than the actions of numerous other therapists who exclude poor people? I’m not agreeing with Julea Ward’s actions, just pointing out that many other therapists are just as horrible as she is yet they’re not receiving the backlash that she’s been receiving.

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