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Concerned about Discrimination in Mississippi?  Visit the "Newsletter & Announcements" page 

 NASW MS Chapter was present at the rally at the Governor Mansion to advocate for repeal of HB 1523.  Social Workers want "NO HATE IN MY STATE"!

Pictured are Hank Rainer, Chapter President, Karen Selestak, Dave Sandefur, Janice Sandefur, Chapter ED, and Mary Ann Everett.


NASW says anti-LGBT laws must be vetoed, repealed

People in Chapel Hill, N.C. protest against the state's Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act. Photo courtesy of TV Guide.

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) is both dismayed and disappointed by the legislative actions taken by Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee to deny equal treatment of LGBT individuals and families.  The following is a brief summary of each law:

Mississippi Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act (HB 1523)

The stated purpose of the law is to protect from discrimination claims anyone who believes that marriage is between one man and one woman, that sexual relations are reserved solely for marriage, and that the terms male and female pertain only to a person’s genetics and anatomy at birth. The law allows individuals (including those working in publicly funded courts and services), businesses, and religious organizations to use religion to discriminate against LGBT persons and their families.  Examples range from the right to refuse marriage certificates refusing to employ a person and/or rent or sell a person property.  Also, medical professionals can refuse to provide health care if a patient seeks treatment, counseling and surgery related to “sex reassignment or gender identity transitioning[1].

Tennessee LGBT Anti-Counseling Legislation (SB-1556)

The Tennessee anti-LGBT law declares that no person providing counseling or therapy services (in private practice) shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist. Furthermore, the bill provides immunity from liability for counselors and therapists who refuse to counsel a client when doing so is in conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist.

North Carolina Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act ( HB DRH40005-TC-1B)

The North Carolina Facilities Privacy and Security Act, which was passed by the North Carolina legislature, requires schools and public agencies to have gender-segregated bathrooms and to prevent people from using a bathroom that doesn’t correspond to their biological sex.  Further, the law states individuals cannot bring any civil action based upon the state’s employment or public accommodation nondiscrimination protections.  It states that cities and counties are prohibited from writing non-discrimination ordinances that protect LGBT people or veterans.  This trend in legal discrimination is growing, with  13 other states  considering similar legislation.

NASW Position

NASW believes that these laws, passed under the guise of “religious freedom” or to “protect children,” must be vetoed or repealed.  Taken separately or collectively, all three laws are objectionable and are an affront to the progress we have made toward protecting the civil and human rights of all Americans.

While NASW respects diversity of many types, various freedoms and rights are subject to reasonable limitations and religious expression does not automatically trump other legitimate interests.[2]   NASW has joined allied mental health provider groups to voice concern that such laws violate their professions’ policies and the NASW Code of Ethics. NASW believes that discrimination and prejudice dir­ected against any group is damaging to the so­cial, emotional, and economic well-being of the affected group and of society as a whole.

[1] CNN News  April 16, 2016.  Retrieved from:

[2] NASW  Legal Issue of the Month.  Provider Refusal and Conscious Clause Controversies.

For more information on this issue contact NASW Senior Policy Associate Evelyn Tomaszewski at


The New York Times recently ran this story on Mississippi’s child welfare system, which is under threat of being put in receivership and being run by an outside organization.

NASW, MS CHAPTER RESPONSE TO NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE                                                            

We appreciate the concern for Mississippi's children voiced in the article "Mississippi Fights to Keep Control of Its Beleaguered Child Welfare System" on January 17, 2016.  However, a critical error must be addressed in its content.  The use of the term "social worker" is restricted in our licensing law to licensed social workers only (MS Code of 1972, 73-53-7 (1) ). Licensed social workers meet strict education and national testing standards. The staff mentioned as social workers in the article may not it this guideline.  

The National Association of Social Workers, Mississippi Chapter supports the use of professional social workers who have been trained by Council on Social Work Accredited Programs at the bachelor's or master's level, and licensed by the MS Board of Examiners for Social Workers and Marriage & Family Therapists.  Many of the staff currently providing services in the Family and Children's Services Division of DHS do not have this education and are not licensed social workers. These staff work under the titles Family Protection Worker and Family Protection Specialist and have a variety of backgrounds. Unlike the licensed professional social worker, they are provided with nine weeks of training after hiring to prepare them for high pressure jobs where children's lives are at stake.  The information in this article is very misleading in that it does not differentiate between the actual licensed social workers in the agency and those who do not have that critical qualification.

We believe that all positions requiring assessment and intervention on behalf of children and families require the education and licensing of Mississippi's professional social workers.  Our association has supported and will continue to support the employment of licensed professional social workers in all positions in Family & Children's Services.



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Did you know that students who join NASW before graduation enjoy discounted dues for up to four years if they maintain continuous membership? Those who wait until after graduation to join won’t receive discounted dues of 40%-75% off the regular member rate.
MSW students who join NASW now, before they graduate, pay student rate this year, and discounted Transitional rates after graduation for the next three years as new professionals.  That’s a total savings of $453 off of Regular MSW dues over four years.
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