|Our nation is experiencing a great deal of division concerning the rights and personal experiences of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people. Same sex marriage and other relationship benefits are now legal in all 50 states, yet GLBT people still remain targets for hate and violence because of their sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. It is important to know that the suicide rate is higher for people dealing with GLBT concerns. Another disturbing fact is that the state of Tennessee legislature passed a bill allowing counselors to refuse to see any client if counseling that client involves “goals, outcomes or behaviors that conflict with the sincerely held principles of the counselor or therapist.” This bill is in direct opposition to the Counselor’s Code of Ethics. It certainly can interfere with finding an empathic counselor when one is most needed. And there is concern that other states might follow Tennessee’s lead regarding similar bills. GLBT concerns are significant in this country at this time; support is available, but there are also many roadblocks for some people in their attempts to access this support.
|This proposal is important to the religious community because when people who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning are needing support due to mental health or general counseling concerns, it is imperative that they find an environment that is welcoming, empathic and non-judging. It can be very difficult for someone from the GLBTQ community to reach out for help. In some communities individuals are opening up to a mental health provider and being told that because of religious beliefs held by counselor, that a referral would have to be made. Many have already been marginalized by individuals because of certain religious beliefs.