ACSSW Position Statements
Part of ACSSW's mission is to engage in advocacy for human rights, especially sexually related rights that are outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) which include the following:
the rights to equality and non-discrimination
the right to be free from torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment
the right to privacy
the rights to the highest attainable standard of health (including sexual health) and social security
the right to marry and to found a family and enter into marriage with the free and full consent of the intending spouses, and to equality in and at the dissolution of marriage
the right to decide the number and spacing of one's children
the rights to information, as well as education
the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and
the right to an effective remedy for violations of fundamental rights.
"Sexual rights protect all people's rights to fulfil and express their sexuality and enjoy sexual health, with due regard for the rights of others and within a framework of protection against discrimination" (WHO, 2006a, updated 2010).
Statements published on this page have been reviewed and endorsed by the ACSSW Board of Directors. Most are authored by members of the Social Justice & Advocacy Committee. Some have been developed with input from other ACA Divisions and Committees. References and resources are provided with each statement.
ACSSW 2023 Position Statements
ACSSW Unified Statement on
As of March 21, 2023, 461 anti-LGBTGQIAP+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender expansive, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual+) bills have been introduced in statehouses across the country. These bills currently exist in over 40 states and have more than tripled in number since January of this year (Human Rights Campaign, 2023). Anti-LGBTGEQIAP+ legislation places transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive youth amongst the most targeted by these pervasive attacks. Aimed at severely limiting access to school resources, social support systems, and medically necessary gender-affirming healthcare, these bills run counter to decades of research supported by every major U.S. medical association (Human Rights Campaign, 2023).
Regardless of legislative status, the introduction and political discourse surrounding these bills leaves lasting effects on the health and well-being of LGBTGEQIAP+ identities. A national survey of shows that 93% of transgender and nonbinary youth worry about being denied access to gender-affirming medical care, 91% worry about being denied bathroom access, and 83% worry about being denied the right to play sports due to state or local laws (Trevor Project, 2022). And as of January 2023, 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth experienced worsening mental health due to the current wave of anti-transgender legislation and surrounding debate.
In alignment with our organization’s mission, Association of Counseling Sexology and Sexual Wellness (ACSSW) unequivocally stands in solidarity with the LGBTGEQIAP+ community. ACSSW remains committed to advocating and fighting alongside our friends, family, coworkers, peers, and community members affected by these divisive and harmful bills. As professional healthcare providers, we respect client autonomy as an inherent right and believe that medical decisions reside with clients, their caretakers, and their physicians. Gatekeeping access to age-appropriate, medically necessary, gender-affirming care is unethical and can increase the risk for negative mental health outcomes for gender diverse youth (ACLU, 2021).
ACSSW is devoted to providing support, resources, and education that promotes the health and wellbeing of these populations. We condemn all violence and discrimination directed at LGBTGEQIAP+ identities and adamantly oppose legislation threatening these communities. These bills stand in direct opposition to our core values, ethical codes, and professional responsibilities as healthcare providers. ACSSW will continue working to improve standards and delivery of care for LGBTGEQIAP+ populations and remains steadfast in our collective fight against oppression.
We know reading these reports of legislation targeting our communities can be difficult. If you have experienced violence or need support, please see the resources listed below:
The Trevor Project: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Trans Lifeline: https://translifeline.org/
American Civil Liberties Union. (2021, April 1). Doctors agree: Gender-affirming is life-saving care. https://www.aclu.org/news/lgbtq-rights/doctors-agree-gender-affirming- care-is-life-saving-care.
Human Rights Campaign. (2023, March 27). Map: Attacks on gender-affirming care by state. https://www.hrc.org/resources/attacks-on-gender-affirming-care-by-state-map.
The Trevor Project. (2022, December 15). 2022 National survey on LGBTQ youth mental health https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2022/
ACSSW Unified Statement on Anti-LGBTGEQIAP+ Legislation
ACSSW Position Statements 2022
Dear ACSSW Members,
Our very own Dr. Christina McGrath – Fair led the charge to create a unified statement in response to the anti-LGBTGEQIAP+ legislation. Because of her efforts, several divisions have come together in support.
As of March 11, 2022, more than 150 pieces of legislation targeting queer and trans people have been introduced in state legislatures across the country (ACLU, 2022). Just four months in, this has already been a watershed year for anti-LGBTGEQIAP+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender expansive, queer, intersex, asexual, pansexual+) legislation. These bills currently exist in 31 states, and this threatens the future for individuals in the community nationwide. While anti-LGBTGEQIAP+ legislation is not a new phenomenon, the state level attack against equality follows a number of improvements at the federal level. These attacks place transgender, non-binary, and other gender non-conforming youth amongst the most targeted groups at this time. While not all issues for all members of the LGBTGEQIAP+ community are the same, they all share oppression and are targeted by this legislation
We know that 94% of LGBTQ+ youth have reported that recent political attacks have negatively impacted their mental health (Trevor Project, 2021). LGBTGEQIAP+ youth are already at a heightened risk of experiencing depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders (NAMI, 2022). Research also shows that LGBTGEQIAP+ youth are significantly more likely than their heterosexual, cisgender peers to experience suicidal ideation and attempts at suicide (NAMI, 2022). Half of all LGBTQ+ youth of color reported discrimination based on their race/ethnicity in the past year, including 67% of Black LGBTQ youth and 60% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ youth (Trevor Project, 2021). As professional counselors, we are committed to the well-being of these communities. These bills, and those like them, threaten these communities and stand in opposition to our core professional values:
enhancing human development throughout the lifespan;
honoring diversity and embracing a multicultural approach in support of the worth, dignity, potential, and uniqueness of people within their social and cultural contexts;
promoting social justice;
safeguarding the integrity of the counselor–client relationship; and
practicing in a competent and ethical manner (ACA, 2014, p. 3).
The following divisions and affiliate organizations of the American Counseling Association (ACA), Association of Counseling Sexology and Sexual Wellness (ACSSW), the Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities in Counseling (SAIGE), the Association for Counselor Education and Supervision (ACES), the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD), the Association for Specialists in Group Work (ASGW), the International Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (IAMFT), the Association for Child and Adolescent Counseling (ACAC), the Association for Creativity in Counseling (ACC), the American College Counseling Association (ACCA), the Association for Humanistic Counseling (AHC), the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC), Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ), and The International Association of Addictions and Offender Counselors (IAAOC) stand in solidarity with ACA’s nondiscrimination statement:
The American Counseling Association is committed to nondiscrimination and to the prevention of harassment in all forms—verbal, physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological—including protections for transgender, gender non-conforming, and LGBTQ+ individuals. Every human being on earth is unique and uniquely important. Each person embarks on the adventure of life guided by their own spirit, outlook, and traits of character. These facets help to shape and guide the course of every human journey. Everyone is equal on this path.
The ACA Governing Affairs Resources:
The ACA Code of Ethics:
The CSJ Code of Ethics:
Ibrahim, F.A., Dinsmore, J.A., Estrada, D., & D'andrea, M. (2011). The Counselors for Social Justice (CSJ) Code of Ethics.
Counseling Competencies for LGBQQIA People in pdf
Counseling Competencies for Transgender Clients in pdf
Multicultural Social Justice Counseling Competencies (MSJCC):
Resources for Further Support:
Human Rights Campaign
How To Teach LGBTQ History
Crisis Help: The Trevor Project | 24 Hour Telephone (866) 488-7386 | We're here for you Now – The Trevor Project | Trans Lifeline (877) 565-8860 Peer support phone service run by and for transgender people.
TransSOCIAL (Transgender-led organization): TransSOCIAL, Inc.. Services and resources include: Name and gender marker change assistance, case management, peer support and social groups, and affirming medical and mental health referrals.
National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network (Healing justice organization): National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network | Services and resources include: Mental Health Practitioner Directory and an online assistance to help connect queer and trans people of color to queer and trans practitioners of color and supplemental financial assistance for psychotherapy (Mental Health Fund).
Glimmer: Glimmer | Platform for helping LGBTQIA+ people connect with affirming wellness professionals.
Statement crafted by Christina McGrath Fair, chair of ACSSW Social Justice & Advocacy committee. Special thanks to Tamekia Bell (SAIGE), Devika Dibya Choudhuri (ASGW), Angela Cocker (AMCD), Delilah Owens (CSJ), Deborah Rubel (ACES), Angela Schubert (ACSSW), Carol Smith (IARTC), and Shon Smith (CSJ) for feedback and contributions to this statement.
Statement Regarding Recent Mass Shooting Targeting the LGBTQIA+ Population
In response to the recent mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Springs, ACSSW would like to offer condolences and support to the LGBTQ+ community and all families that have been touched by these recent acts of violence that continue to affect all individuals which have resulted in trauma, sadness, and confusion.
ACSSW remains committed and dedicated to supportt the LGBTQ+ community and all individuals who have experienced any level of violence. ACSSW stands strong with the mission of recognizing sexuality as a universal human experience.
ACSSW continues to offer resources, ways to be an advocate, and support all communities and populations. The continued mass shootings have caused many individuals to feel unsure or unaware of how to be supported or help those that may have been touched by tragedy. ACSSW is present and would like to promote sexuality as a central aspect as we move into 2023 and stand together with solidarity in mind.
Resources and Support:
Statement Written by the ACSSW Social Justice & Advocacy Committee