Letter to the Editor: Social workers against HB 1523

Letter to the Editor: Social workers against HB 1523

The Religious Liberty Accommodations Act will not promote liberty but instead will ensure the denial of services and resources to many of Mississippi’s vulnerable citizens.

The Mississippi Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) asserts that HB 1523 permits employees and any service provider including state employees to refuse providing a service to qualified persons based on that particular employee’s religious beliefs. We believe that such refusals of services will negatively affect clients/patients, students and professional social workers all over Mississippi.

This law violates the U.S. Constitution, the Mississippi Constitution, Mississippi laws and regulations pertaining to social workers and federal and state laws barring discrimination, harassment and retaliation and international law. We join many businesses, associations and groups who have opposed and called for the repeal of this law, including among others the Mississippi Economic Council, IBM, AT&T, the ACLU, Human Rights Campaign, and others.”

The NASW Code of Ethics guides social work practice and stipulates that “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, age, marital status, political belief, religion, or mental or physical disability” (NASW Code of Ethics 4.02.1). Social workers at The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Social Work consider HB 1523 antithetical to the values and ethics of our profession.

The University of Southern Mississippi School of Social Work faculty and staff stand in opposition to any violations of civil rights, including discrimination against LGBTQ citizens and any others who may be harmed by this law. We are committed to building communities in which all may thrive, achieve, learn and grow. HB 1523 erodes and undermines the essential elements of community.

We, the undersigned, call upon Mississippi legislators and the governor to repeal House Bill 1523.

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