The state of Arkansas has taken steps toward approving a rule that would allow counselors to refer gay and lesbian patients to counselors who are comfortable treating them.
According to SRNNews.com, the new rule was proposed by the state Board of Examiners in Counseling and has been approved by a subcommittee of the Arkansas Legislative Council.
The state Board of Examiners in Counseling regulates 2,800 counselors, including marriage and family therapists.
Although some have argued that the new rule would permit discrimination against gays and lesbians, Michael Loos, the board’s executive director, said the rule is actually aimed at preventing Arkansas from enacting a broader version of the rule, such as the one recently enacted in Tennessee.
The Tennessee measure allows counselors to completely refuse treatment to patients on the basis of their religious or personal beliefs, while the Arkansas measure requires the counselor to refer the patient to a different healthcare provider.
Publication date: June 15, 2016